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Tuesday’s Red Sox-Blue Jays matchups: Daniel Bard vs. Kyle Drabek

04.10.12 at 5:36 am ET
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With a pitching staff that has already given up double digits in runs in two of its first four games this season, the Red Sox turn to Daniel Bard for his first major league start as he takes on the Blue Jays’ Kyle Drabek Tuesday night in Toronto.

Now entering his fourth MLB season, Bard has appeared in 192 games. But entering the 2012 season, Bard, once thought by many to be Boston’s closer of the future, was moved to the rotation, with Tuesday marking his first career start in the majors.

Primarily used as the team’s set-up man for closer Jonathan Papelbon last season, Bard had a productive 2011. In 70 appearances out of the bullpen, Bard had a 2-9 record with 34 holds, a 3.33 ERA and 74 strikeouts to go along with 24 walks. His ERA last season did rise from the 1.93 mark that he posted in 2010, but he did have fewer blown saves (seven in 2010, five last season), fewer walks (30 in 2010) and more holds (32 in 2010).

With a new role on the team in 2012, Bard struggled throughout much of spring training as a starter. In six appearances, five of which were starts, Bard went 2-2 with a 6.57 ERA with 18 strikeouts and 16 walks in 24 2/3 innings pitched.

In the 2011 season, Bard faced the Blue Jays more than any other team (tied with the Yankees) with nine total appearances. But in those appearances, however, Bard had trouble against Toronto, with a 0-2 record and a 7.71 ERA in 9 1/3 innings pitched, along with no saves in two save opportunities. Among teams that he pitched more than three innings against, Bard had a higher ERA against the Blue Jays than any other MLB team.

Bard has previously faced 10 Blue Jays players in his career. None have more than nine plate appearances against him. Seven of those 10 players have not gotten a hit off of Bard, and only third baseman Edwin Encarnacion has more than one hit off of Bard. In five career at-bats against Bard, Encarnacion has two hits, both of which were singles.

At 24 years old, Drabek is part of a young Blue Jays rotation under the guidance of Toronto manager John Farrell, who spent five seasons with the Red Sox as the team’s pitching coach. Unlike Bard, Drabek has much more experience as a starter despite just entering his third season in the majors.

After making only three appearances as a late-season call-up in 2010, Drabek became more of a fixture in the Blue Jays’ rotation last season, making 14 starts and 18 appearances. In those games, however, Drabek was entirely underwhelming as he went 4-5 with a 6.06 ERA, 55 walks and 51 strikeouts in 78 2/3 innings.

Much like Bard against the Blue Jays, Drabek noticeably struggled against the Red Sox last season. In two starts against Boston in 2011, both of which took place at the Rogers Centre, Drabek gave up 12 earned runs and 15 hits in just nine innings pitched. Red Sox batters combined to hit .366 off Drabek in those games. Those games against the Red Sox were emblematic of Drabek’s overall struggles pitching at the Rogers Centre, where he posted a 1-3 record and a 7.26 ERA in seven starts. Of the nine ballparks he pitched at in 2011, at only three did Drabek have a worse ERA than he did at the Blue Jays’ home field.

Largely due to his short career, Drabek does not have an extensive history against Red Sox batters, having only faced seven Red Sox batters, none of which have more than six plate appearances against him. Aside from Mike Aviles, every one of those seven Red Sox players have gotten at least one hit off of Drabek and of those six players, no one has a batting average worse than .250 against Drabek.

Red Sox vs. Drabek

Jacoby Ellsbury (6 plate appearances): .600 BA/.667 OBP/.600 SLG, 3 hits, 1 walk

Adrian Gonzalez (6): .500/.500/1.667, 3 hits, 1 double, 2 home runs, 4 RBIs, 2 strikeouts

David Ortiz (6): .667/.667/1.833, 4 hits, 1 double, 2 home runs, 4 RBIs, 1 strikeout

Kevin Youkilis (6): .250/.500/.250, 1 hit, 1 RBI, 2 walks, 1 strikeout

Jarrod Saltalamacchia (4): .333/.500/.333, 1 hit, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts

Mike Aviles (3): .000/.000/.000

Blue Jays vs. Bard

Jose Bautista (9 plate appearances): .000 BA/.222 OBP/.000 SLG, 2 RBIs, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts

Edwin Encarnacion (6): .400/.500/.400, 2 hits, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts

Yunel Escobar (6): .000/.000/.000, 4 strikeouts

Adam Lind (6): .167/.167/.167, 1 hit, 4 strikeouts

Kelly Johnson (4): .000/.250/.000, 1 walk

J.P. Arencibia (3): .000/.333/.000, 1 RBI, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

Rajai Davis (3): .000/.000/.000

Omar Vizquel (3): .333/.333/.333, 1 hit

Brett Lawrie (2): .000/.500/.000

Eric Thames (2): .000/.500/.000, 1 RBI, 1 walk

Read More: Daniel Bard, Edwin Encarnacion, John Farrell, Jonathan Papelbon
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