Alex Cora must name a closer for the Red Sox soon
Spring training is nearly done and the Red Sox have yet to name a closer for the 2021 season. Boston skipper Alex Cora has made it clear that he wants a set arm to finish off games, something the team hasn’t really had since 2018. The team has a pair of options that could get the job done with one being a familiar face and the other a new kid in school.
Going into camp it felt like it was a two-horse race between Matt Barnes and Adam Ottavino for the vacant closer spot in the lineup. Both have excelled this spring and it’s made the decision tough for the Red Sox manager. Even with the two putting in their best efforts he still needs to decide who he wants to have the ball in the ninth.
Cora spoke again about his process and that he wants to give both pitchers plenty of chances to make their cases. But spring training is almost done and Opening Day is less than two weeks away, it’s time to pull the trigger. I previously wrote about some mistakes that AC made in his last spring training and though he’s done much better this time, this closer situation feels all too familiar.
"“There’s no rush on doing this,” Cora said. “They know it. Right now they’re working on their craft and Otto pitched the ninth one day, Barnesy pitched today. It’s different preparation for both of them but we’re comfortable with the way they’re throwing the ball which is good and whenever we make the decision, we will.”"
Otto and Barnes both pitched today and were once again excellent but we can’t wait until we’re into the regular season before Cora makes his move. Granted, for all we know he could name his closer in tomorrow’s presser but it’s something I think most Red Sox fans would’ve liked to have had behind us by now. I get that he doesn’t want to rush his process and make a mistake, but waiting too long to get someone into that role and mindset could be a setback for the regular season.
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Back in 2019, AC had a similar issue when he couldn’t decide on a closer after the departure of Craig Kimbrel. For most of the season, we saw a closer by committee, which as we all remember, didn’t quite work out how everyone would’ve liked. Eventually, Brandon Workman would earn the position and thrive in the role. Had he been in that spot from the get-go then maybe that season could’ve been more competitive than what we saw on the field.
I was optimistic that we wouldn’t be finding ourselves in this familiar position with how adamant he was about having things locked up but I’m starting to get a feeling we may not know who it’s going to be until Opening Day. With such little time left in spring training, I’m not sure what else he needs to see in order to make his decision but we’ll just have to wait and see. I won’t speak for the rest of Red Sox Nation but I’d like to see Ottavino get the call and made a case recently. As good as Barnes is, I’ve seen too much of him in situations where he’s lost control and the game, no thanks.
Again, both Matt Barnes and Adam Ottavino have been lights-out this spring and I can see why Cora may be struggling to make a decision. There could be some loyalty towards Barnes from past seasons while there is hesitation with a new player. At the end of the day, a decision needs to be made and made soon because Opening Day will be here before we know it.