Despite Daniel Bard included in many MLB trade rumors lately, the Colorado Rockies went in a different direction with their closer. Bard signed a two-year, $19 million contract extension to stay in Colorado for a bit longer with days to go before the 2022 MLB Trade Deadline, per's Mark Feinsand and the New York Post's Jon Heyman. It's an interesting turn of events, considering Bard was viewed as one of the top relief pitchers on the trade market. Instead of dealing away their 37-year-old closer, who was set to be a free agent after this season, the Rockies handed Bard a nice payday. For fantasy baseball managers who roster Bard, this is fairly good news because it means he'll still get save opportunities in Colorado for now. If he was dealt to a team with an incumbent closer, then we'd currently be scouring the fantasy baseball waiver wire for saves. So what does this mean for Bard's MLB projections and fantasy baseball rankings for the rest of this season? If you're in a dynasty or keeper league, what can you expect from the Colorado reliever in the next two years? Let's break it down in the latest fantasy baseball player spotlight series.



Daniel Bard Fantasy Baseball Player Spotlight



If you look at Bard's stats this season, it should be no surprise that MLB contending teams around the league wanted to acquire him. He has a 1.86 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, and 22 saves in 24 opportunities for the Rockies while being one of the more reliable fantasy baseball closers to roster in 2022. The Colorado right-hander also has 44 strikeouts over 38.2 innings pitched for an impressive 10.2 K/9 rate. Furthermore, Bard has just a .151 batting average against, averages 98.1 mph on his fastball, and even has three wins on his record. 

The fact that Bard is putting up these numbers as a 37-year-old is certainly impressive in its own right. It’s even more intriguing when you consider the guy had a 5.21 ERA last year and plays his home games at the hitter-friendly Coors Field. Oh yeah, then there’s the fact that Bard flamed out of the big leagues nearly a decade ago and retired from baseball in 2017.

The Rockies signed Bard in 2020, which marked seven seasons between MLB appearances, after multiple teams signed (and subsequently released) him on minor-league deals from 2013 to 2017. That 2020 season came with mixed results as he accrued a 3.65 ERA over 24.2 innings with six saves during that COVID-shortened campaign. Then there was his rollercoaster 2021 season, when he had an ERA above 5.00 but gave fantasy managers 20 saves in 28 chances. 

Coming into this year, Bard was a later-round pick in fantasy baseball drafts because he was still the Rockies’ closer – and saves can be hard to come by in most leagues. The impressive ERA and WHIP are icing on the cake, though, and you’re likely ecstatic if you took a chance on the Colorado reliever. He’s pitched at an All-Star level and was, by no surprise, a top trade candidate for MLB contenders looking to bolster their bullpen. 

Looking closer at how Bard has been so effective this season, there are some encouraging signs. His career-best 53.2% groundball rate is always a good thing for relief pitchers, especially those that play in Colorado. Plus, the lower 9.7% HR/FB rate plays well in Coors Field as he's given up just three homers all season. Take a look at Bard's Statcast profile.

The .168 xBA, .253 xwOBA, and 2.58 xERA are all among the top-tier of MLB pitcher ranks this year. The thing that stands out is Bard's elite-level fastball velocity. His sinker or two-seam fastball averages 98.1 mph, which is a great sign for a guy that was out of baseball just a few years ago. It's even more impressive when you consider Bard throws the sinker on 53.4% of his pitches while allowing just a .175 BA and .278 wOBA against. The movement of his fastball plays well off his slider, which is thrown 43.7% of the time and allows a .111 BA and .232 wOBA against. 

Now that we know Bard is presumably staying in Colorado for the rest of this season, and likely the next couple of years, fantasy baseball managers can breathe a collective sigh of relief. If you're in a league that just counts saves without holds, Bard's fantasy value probably would've taken a notable hit if he was dealt to a the Yankees, Dodgers, or another contending team. A week ago, it looked like a real possibility that Bard would land on a team with a closer already in place or more competition for the ninth-inning role than he has in Colorado.

Since Bard is staying put at the deadline, he's firmly entrenched as the Rockies' closer for the rest of this season. He'll now build on his 22 saves and 91.7% save rate – both among the top five in the MLB – and continue to be a top fantasy reliever. It might be worrisome that Colorado has a sub-.500 record, sits 22 games back of the Dodgers in the NL West, and is 8.5 games out of the NL Wild Card race. The worry about how many save opportunities Bard gets the rest of the way is a legit concern. 

Still, the Rockies will turn to their closer in the ninth inning whenever they do have a lead late. The 22 saves to this point is evidence that he's the clear-cut closer in town and that shouldn't change, barring injury. Plus, even though Colorado is seemingly out of contention this season, the team hasn't shown a ton of interest to sell off key players at the deadline. Bard's contract extension tells us that the Rockies are hoping to be competitive for next year and beyond – and possibly make a late run at a Wild Card spot this season. That team mindset should give Bard plenty of save opportunities moving forward. 

Outside of saves, though, some advanced stats suggest Bard has gotten lucky at times this season. His minuscule .196 BABIP and high 84.7% left-on-base rate are indicative of some negative regression coming. Then there's his 3.48 FIP, which is considerably worse than the current 1.86 ERA. Part of that comes from playing home games at Coors Field, which puts any pitcher in danger of a bad outing. However, Bard's 11.8% walk rate is also worrisome. 

Fantasy baseball managers may worry about Bard slowing down at some point considering his older age. Despite being 37 years old, though, he's only in his eighth big-league season and that seven-year break from 2013 to 2020 kept plenty of innings off his arm. This isn't your typical near-40 pitcher with a decade-plus of wear-and-tear. Instead, Bard's right arm looks rejuvenated and that's evidenced by him tossing 96-100 consistently with the sinker/two-seam fastball this season. 

Overall, fantasy managers should feel pretty good about Bard continuing his top-tier closer production for their lineups this year. Obviously, it would be more ideal for him to be on a better real-life team than the Rockies and pitching in a pitcher-friendly park instead of Coors. Still, that hasn't impacted his effectiveness this season when it comes to Bard being a top-10 closer option for fantasy baseball. 


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