Who is the Red Sox closer?
The Red Sox haven’t had a trustworthy option to close out the ninth inning since Brandon Workman was shipped to Philadelphia at the trade deadline last season. Matt Barnes moved into the closer role for the rare occasions where the Red Sox had a save situation to protect but we have sufficient evidence over the years that the veteran right-hander isn’t closer material. Boston can’t even pretend to convince us that they want to content if they plan on having Barnes be the primary option in the ninth inning.
The trade for Adam Ottavino gives the Red Sox a potential solution with some experience in the role but he’s mostly been used as a setup man. He’s probably the team’s best reliever and certainly the highest paid but that doesn’t mean he’ll be locked into the ninth. Manager Alex Cora might prefer to be flexible with Ottavino’s usage since the most important outs aren’t necessarily made in the ninth inning.
Ottavino hasn’t fared as well against left-handed hitters throughout his career, allowing a .270 average and .792 OPS. He’s not enough of a liability to be considered a situational reliever but Boston might prefer to mix in southpaw Darwinzon Hernandez (.096 AVG, .400 OPS) against certain left-handers, potentially allowing the lefty to vulture a few rouge saves.
The phrase “closer by committee” historically hasn’t gone over well in Boston but that’s what this bullpen is shaping up to be. There are still some proven closers available on the free-agent market so there’s time to make an upgrade but at the moment, the bullpen strategy to close out games appears unstable.