With Mat Barnes generally considered to be one of the closers for this Red Sox side, using him in a more flexible role will be very beneficial to the team.
Following the loss of perennial All-Star closer, Craig Kimbrel, many people wondered what the front office was thinking in terms of who would be the team’s closer going forward. Matt Barnes is one of the Boston Red Sox’s stronger bullpen options, thus spurring him on to be the potential closer in many fans’ heads.
But, for Alex Cora and his staff, it’s been stated that there’s not going to be one specific closer this season. Cora has dodged questions from the media on this topic and repeatedly stated that this team won’t have one closing option.
This decision by Cora leaves the Red Sox with plenty of options when it comes to closing out games. It also means that we’ll see Barnes in a far more flexible role than what a lot of people had anticipated before the beginning on the season.
Barnes’ flexibility has already been shown early on. The righty completed his first save opportunity of the year in the Sox’s second game in Seattle. Barnes then came out of the pen in Boston’s only win in Oakland, earning the win for himself. On Sunday, he was used in a role which Red Sox fans are most used to seeing him in. Barnes pitched the seventh and eighth innings in the final game of this long road stretch in Arizona, doing so pretty perfectly, acting as a strong bridge to that day’s closer in Ryan Brasier – who racked up his second save on the year.
More from Red Sox News
- Red Sox invited group of players you’ve probably never heard of to Spring Training
- Jeter Downs’ official departure will continue to haunt Red Sox
- Aaron Judge’s Yankees return a brutal reminder of what could have been for Red Sox
- Red Sox should capitalize on Yankees’ latest roster move
- Red Sox ownership’s latest reported venture could be what’s affected team spending
Barnes has come out firing so far after perhaps the best year of his career in 2018. He’s struck out six opponents over 4.1 innings pitched and has only allowed a single base-runner. This is what the Sox expect and need from Barnes this season. If he’s able to keep up productive appearances out of the Boston bullpen, then this can lead the way for his peers. Barnes has to step up this season and become the leading figure, performance-wise, out of the pen.
His stuff, which includes a destructive curveball, along with his ability to command his pitches efficiently, leaves the Cora with a reliable pitcher to close out games, set up games and come in when there’s a high leverage situation at stake. This type of presence out of the pen is one that’s highly sought by any major league team, and if Barnes can perform each time he’s called upon and continue to progress, then he can definitely be one of these figures.
Sunday’s game against the Diamondbacks also showed the strengths of other relievers in this squad. After plenty of questions held over the help Boston has from the pen, they’ve shown up pretty well thus far. On a day where the pitching duties were solely given to the bullpen, the Sox relievers shut-out a good Arizona side. The likes of Hector Velazquez, Brandon Workman and Marcus Walden give the Sox plenty of options and dynamic when needed.
The options that Cora has with Barnes could prove to be vital in many games, this year. He could be the difference when it comes down to crunch time, and Sox fans will be happy with that from what they’ve seen so far.