Matt Barnes deserves to start for the Red Sox


Matt Barnes joined the Red Sox as the headliner of the youngsters promoted to Boston following the conclusion of the Minor League season. A former first-round pick in 2011, Barnes has been a highly-touted Red Sox prospect for years and was in the midst of a solid age 24 season with Triple-A Pawtucket, riding a dominant second half to a 3.95 ERA for the PawSox.

Since his promotion, Barnes has pitched from the bullpen, a common role for rookie pitchers, and has performed admirably in his first three appearances at the big league level. Barnes has tossed 6 innings, allowing 2 runs on 8 hits and a walk while punching out 5 batters and, while six innings is too small of a sample size to accurately gauge his future, he has looked good. Unlike Allen Webster, Anthony Ranaudo, or Brandon Workman, Barnes looks like he can contribute now as a legitimate Major League pitcher.

Like Webster, Barnes has great stuff, highlighted by a powerful fastball which sits in the low to mid 90’s; however, unlike Webster, he also has decent control, with a career 3.1 BB/9 in his Minor League career and that command has translated well to the Majors, with just one walk so far. Most importantly, however, Barnes doesn’t suffer from the issues that have plagued both Ranaudo and Rubby De La Rosa (who has admittedly had some success) thus far, those issues being the lack of a strong repertoire of pitches.

While De La Rosa and Ranaudo have struggled due to their lack of a third strong pitch, Barnes throws a great fastball along with a solid curve and change. That, mixed with his solid command, puts him above any of the rookies that the Red Sox are currently starting every fifth day.

So, why is Barnes relegated to the bullpen?

Part of it is obviously that he’s very new to the Major Leagues, having thrown all of six innings at the level. Aside from that, however, there are no major reasons why the Red Sox should hold him back from making a couple of starts to finish the year. At the very least, it would give them a chance to evaluate whether Barnes is a viable starting candidate next season. And in a best case scenario, it could give Barnes some confidence and positive experience facing Major League hitters.

There’s obviously not much time left in the season, but it wouldn’t hurt to give Barnes at least one start to finish out the year. So far, in a small sample size, he has looked very good and one could tentatively make the argument that both his ceiling and floor are above any of the afore-mentioned pitchers. So why not give him a chance to prove it?