LA Angels News

LA Angels: Luke Bard Signing Could Be Diamond in the Rough

By Vincent Page
ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 10: Luke Bard #65 of the Los Angeles Angels throws against the Texas Rangers in the sixth inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington on April 10, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 10: Luke Bard #65 of the Los Angeles Angels throws against the Texas Rangers in the sixth inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington on April 10, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /
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The LA Angels have always seemed to be one step behind MLB trends in years past. However, they have jumped right on the wagon when it comes to valuing velocity of pitching. The signing of Luke Bard indicates that, and it could pay off big time.

The LA Angels already had history with the right-handed Luke Bard prior to the reported deal on Saturday. Last season, the Halos selected the relief pitcher in the Rule 5 Draft, but after not wanting to commit to him, they sent Bard back to the Minnesota Twins, his original team.

Throughout his career, Bard has put up underwhelming numbers in the majors. While his ERA in the minors has always held steady (3.38 in six seasons), it balloons when looking at Bard’s major league stats. He has always been susceptible to the long ball, and allowed four in 11.2 MLB innings last season.

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Bard is the type of player who, a decade or two ago, would have been without interest from clubs this winter. However, with the recent league-wide obsession with velocity and spin rate, Bard has been able to keep teams paying attention.

Amongst all pitchers (with at least 100 pitches thrown), Bard consistently ranked amongst the elite with his spin rates. His average fastball had 2770 revolutions per minute (RPM), which ranked second in the entire MLB. His sinker, at 2870 RPM, had more spin on average than any other sinker in baseball. His third major pitch, his slider, ranked fifth in baseball at 2984 RPM.

While Bard’s numbers in the bigs last year are concerning, he more than the numbers tell you. While his 5.40 ERA and four home runs in 11.2 innings last year are awful, a deeper looks shows a pitcher who had one bad outing, and was otherwise phenomenal.

On April 17th, Bard allowed six runs, four home runs, and six hits to the Boston Red Sox, otherwise known as the best team in baseball last year. So let’s pretend that outing never happened. Mike Scioscia never brought in Luke Bard that night.

The storyline changes from a pitcher who allowed four home runs and had a 5.40 ERA in 11.2 innings, to a pitcher who allowed one run over ten innings, and struck out 12 batters during that span.

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The story on Luke Bard, who is still in his prime at 28, seemed to be over after that Boston game last year. However, Luke Bard is back in Anaheim for Chapter Two, and this might be a long story for the reliever out of North Carolina.

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