Reliever Comeback Stories

What a year so far in sports. Starting with Korean baseball and now we have hockey and basketball playoffs, football about to start and baseball in the last third of the year. Of course, there have been many stories this year as COVID has effected some things regarding scheduling and some teams having to play multiple double-headers throughout the year. The seven inning double-headers have not been completely terrible (unless you’re betting those games and your team hasn’t done {shit} through 5 innings and proceeds to not score) the DH rule in both leagues has made the game more exciting not having to see an automatic out at least once through the order. 

    There has been some great stories in baseball this year of a sort of comeback variety that I would like to discuss and give these guys a little shout out and to show that a little bit of perseverance and hard work can go a long way. There are two gentleman in particular that I want to shine the spotlight on: Trevor Rosenthal and Daniel Bard.

Trever Rosenthal

    Trevor Rosenthal came onto the scene as a young 22 year old out of small Community College in Kansas called Cowley County Community College, throwing darts. Armed with a 100mph+ fastball at times, Rosenthal looked groomed to be the closer of the future for the Cardinals. Fast forward to 2014, two years after making his debut in 2012, Rosenthal took over the closer role for good. In 2015, he was an All-Star for the NL Central winning Cardninals, recording 48 saves (second in the NL) with an ERA of 2.10 (career best) and 83 strikeouts in only 68.2 innings. Through Rosenthals first four seasons, he had an ERA of 2.66, WHIP of 1.224, 96 saves, 11.5 K/9, and 303 K’s through 237 innings pitched. In other words, things were looking up for Rosenthal. In 2015, Rosenthal seemed a little off and his numbers showed as he posted an ERA of 4.46 and a WHIP of 1.909. The following year in 2017 Rosenthal had his job striped away from him and was shoved into the set-up role. On top of that, Rosenthal ran into arm problems as he was diagnosed with a torn UCL and ended up having Tommy John surgery in August of that year. After missing all of 2018, Rosenthal returned in 2019 on a 1-year contract with the Washington Nationals and looked like a shell of himself, to say the least. Through 6.1 innings, Rosenthal held an ERA of 22.74, 16 earned runs, 15 walks, three HBP, five wild pitches and only five strikeouts. This was not the Rosenthal the baseball world was used to seeing prior to his Tommy John surgery and things did not get any better when he was scooped up by Detroit after the Nationals released him.

    Fast forward to 2020 and Rosenthal had a new home with the Kansas City Royals. With old Cardinals manager Mike Matheny behind him, Rosenthal looked poised to make his presence felt again, in a big way. Rosenthal saved 7 games for the Royals while registering a 3.29 ERA and a 1.171 WHIP. Then on August 29th, Rosenthal was traded to the Padres for Edward Olivares and player to be named later and has recently picked up two saves since being a member of the surging Padres. What a ride it has been for Rosenthal and it couldn’t have happen to a better guy. Coming back from an unfortunate start to the 2019 season to being on a team that looks poised to make a run in October and having great success while doing it. Wish nothing but luck the rest of the year for Rosenthal and continued success. 

Daniel Bard

    Speaking of wild rides…. this man has been on Sheikra (roller coaster at Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida) since he started his career. Bad joke but seriously Daniel Bard has been through some shit in his career and I couldn’t be happier for the guy. 

    Bard started his career with the Red Sox throwing gas and had a promising future. In Bard’s second year in the big leagues, at the age of 25, Bard had a 1.93 ERA, 1.004 WHIP all the while giving up only 45 hits in 74.2 innings. The next year was more of the same but Bard registered a 3.33 ERA and once again, only letting up 46 hits in 73 innings. Then 2012 happened. The Red Sox wanted to turn Bard into a starter. Which they tried. That resulted in a 6.22 ERA, with 38 strikeouts, 43 walks, and 41 earned runs through 59.1 innings. All those stats were through 10 starts and the Red Sox ended the starter project and the next season Bard was back to relieving. The Red Sox sent him down to rookie ball in 2013 and he only made two appearances for them that year. 

The Red Sox got rid of Bard and the Rangers scooped him up in 2014 and sent him down to Rookie ball where things got a little interesting. In Single-A, Bard had quite a time. Through .2 innings… yes .2 innings, Bard gave up 13 earned runs, 9 walks, 7 hit by pitches, one strike out, and only faced 18 batters. Tragic to say the least. Bard didn’t pitch again after that and didn’t play the whole 2015 season and a self diagnosis of the “yips.” 2016 and 2017 were more of the same, unfortunately, and after a brutal 2017, Bard retired. It was looking like a sad ending to a once promising career. 

    Not every story has to end tragically, right? Fast forward to the year 2020 and the Rockies gave the former first round a pick another chance. A long shot out of Spring Training to make the roster, Bard ended up making the Rockies thanks to the expanded rosters and proved he belonged. In Bard’s first big league appearance in almost eight years, he earned a victory. For a man to go from having the “yips”, something that is such a mental heartache that it takes an unbelievable toll on your mind, body, and soul is so tough to get over to being successful on a Major League level again is a great accomplishment. Having the mental strength to overcome something like that shows a lot about the kind of person he is. Not being able to do something you have excelled at your whole life, then all the sudden the forces of life take it away from you and you have to overcome every obstacle in that way to get back to where he is now is truly unbelievable. This is the type of story for someone who is stuck mentally on something and just can’t break any walls being put in their way to show that you as a human can overcome anything you put your mind to with a little will power, perseverance, and determination.

ARLINGTON, TEXAS – JULY 21: Daniel Bard #52 of the Colorado Rockies during a MLB exhibition game at Globe Life Field on July 21, 2020 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

All in all, I couldn’t be happier for both of men and what they have accomplished in their careers. Both have very similar stories but come from different backgrounds and different circumstances. I bid each good luck on their respected careers and if you ever see them pitching stay and watch them for a minute and appreciate we can watch them throw a baseball still. Have a great rest of your day and have a great weekend! 

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