After working 2/3 of an inning of perfect relief in the teams win over the Blue Jays Wednesday night, Red Sox reliver Daniel Bard continued a string of 17 consecutive innings without allowing a run. The scoreless streak marks the longest of his career as well as the longest by a Sox reliever since Hideki Okajima’s 20 2/3 scoreless innings in his rookie season.
Bard has not disappointed in his young career, honing a 2.51 ERA in parts of three seasons with the Sox, pitching 165 innings with 179 strikeouts.
Jonathan Papelbon, the Red Sox's current closer doesn't have a scoreless inning streak, actually hes allowed 3 runs in his last two outings and in his last 10 appearances he has allowed 10 hits. While Daniel Bard is offering 17 consecutive games without allowing a run, your closer can't seem to put together a clean inning. There my friends is a problem.
Papelbon once unhitable now is all but. After nearly blowing Tuesdays game, Papelbon again allowed a run in the ninth on Wednesday, watching his season ERA balloon to 4.15, all this from a guy from 2005-09 hadn't had an ERA above 2.65.
Papelbon's contract is up at the end of 2011 and the reliever will most assuredly sign with a team willing to pay him the big contract he seeks, but would the Red Sox consider dealing the former all-star?
Back in January, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe wrote that the Red Sox were open to trade offers for the 30-year-old ,during spring training and the team would "probably listen" to trade offers during the regular season as well.
The possibility of a trade though intriguing, appears unlikely unless some team is willing to pay part of Papelbon's salary and compensate the Red Sox with some sort of player that forces their hand.
Papelbon looks like he's here to stay, most likley as the closer, unless he becomes as ineffective as "Eric Gange circa 2007.
Daniel Bard has been outstanding, but he'll have to wait until 2012 to get his shot as the closer, But the Red Sox need both he and Papelbon on their A-game.
Bottom line is this. To be successful come October, you will need both an lights out set-up man and shutdown closer.