Tuesday Rockpile: Daniel Bard has a new slider—and it’s not as good as before

Tuesday Rockpile: Daniel Bard has a new slider—and it’s not as good as before

Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images Colorado Rockies news and links for Tuesday, May 4, 2021 If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got—until one of your pitches changes itself? Daniel Bard’s bWAR in 2020 was good for the seventh-best mark by a Rockies player (0.9; best among relievers). In 2021, he now ranks second-to-last among all players that have put on a Colorado uniform this year (-0.6). Bard has made 10 appearances in 2021—all one inning or less—and has allowed at least one run in five of them. His four earned runs allowed on Sunday led to his worst outing of the year. Bard spoke after Sunday’s game, saying “I feel really good throwing the baseball. I can’t throw the ball much better than that, as far as just strictly looking at pitch execution.” His comments came immediately on the heels of a dismal outing, when it would have been far easier to just say it wasn’t working and dismiss the media altogether. In 2021, the scouting report on Bard has thickened—and so has his pitch data. Metrics like spin rate, active spin and pitch axis weren’t readily available for public use when he first joined the league. They can now be readily accessed to pinpoint lapses between solid pitch execution and poor results. Pinpointing the issue: Movement profiles Bard’s fastball metrics have hardly changed. His spin rate is still immaculate (2700+), and he still works consistently in the upper 90’s. If anything, his fastball should actually be better this year. His uptick in velocity has helped yield a greater spin rate, and in turn, greater movement. The axis and spin efficiency remain the same lethal combo of a year ago. Is there anything that is actually different? Yes. Bard has seen a 10 percent change in his slider spin efficiency, which suggests he is releasing the ball differently instead of pitching with similar ‘gyro’ action he had on his slider last year. The axis of rotation has subsequently changed, which further causes a change to the movement profile. (Note: High active spin isn’t always good—see below.) Hitters seem to have liked it. What we do know: Bard’s new slider looks more like his fastball than his old slider. Take a look at the horizontal movement below: A two-inch difference in horizontal break has now become a 0.4-inch difference. In comparison: Clayton Kershaw has a 3.7-inch difference in horizontal movement this year on his fastball and slider. Jacob deGrom has a 4.3-inch difference. The

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