Red Sox News: Matt Barnes named AL Reliever of the Month for April
Red Sox closer Matt Barnes rewarded for April dominance
The Red Sox had one hell of an April and they’re still reaping the benefits from coming out of the gate so hot. As the calendar flips to May we’ve seen the squad sputter a bit but thanks to an off-day today, they should hopefully be refocused for Tuesday’s series opener with Detroit. One man that hasn’t had a single sputter so far in 2021 is Matt Barnes. Since being named the team’s closer at the end of spring training he’s been untouchable.
It was announced today that Barnes was named the AL Reliever of the Month for April. This should come as no surprise to anyone with a set of eyes who’s watched him on the mound this season. It hasn’t mattered the situation in which he’s entered the game Barnes has been phenomenal and has shown a side I think we’ve all been waiting to see. Going into this season I wasn’t the biggest fan of Matty Backpacks getting the nod to be the closer but he’s made me eat my words and I’m more than glad to admit I’m wrong.
Through 14 appearances in 2021 Barnes has totaled 6 saves for the Red Sox with a 1-0 record. He’s thrown 14.1 innings and has a 2.51 ERA, 1.16 FIP, and 0.628 WHIP to show for his efforts. One of the more impressive stats through April for the fireballer is his K/BB ratio which sits at 25/3 and he’s averaging 15.7 K/9 to just 1.9 BB/9, both career highs. Granted, the season is still very young and with only a month under his belt, these stats will definitely change. But that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate the achievement!
In my opinion, one of the biggest intangibles for why Barnes has been so good this year all fall on the fact that he has a set role. In recent years we’ve seen him sometimes setup, sometimes come on early, and sporadically close. He hasn’t had that one true defined role in which he knows his job each and every day when he gets to the ballpark and what he needs to focus on. It may seem like such a ridiculous thing to credit for his April dominance but think about it. When you have no idea what you’re going to be doing at work every day it can tend to make it tricky to be successful.
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Another interesting tidbit here for Barnes is that he’s in a contract year. When the book closes on the 2021 season he’ll be jumping into the free-agent waters, unless the Red Sox make a move before then. The righty hasn’t been discreet with his desire to remain in Boston, the team that drafted him 19th overall in 2011. He’s a New England guy through and through having grown up in Connecticut and played for the UConn Huskies in college. Being able to finish out the story and spend his entire career with the Sox would be perfection.
I haven’t always been the nicest to Matt and I can admit that I wasn’t always right for my criticisms. I can be harsh but at times the decisions being made on the mound warranted that harshness. In 2021 however, I have nothing but praise and glowing reviews for what we’ve seen from the right-hander and hope I can keep that going through the entire season. I think we’re seeing a side of him that has come through in glances and glimmers over the years and now that the restrictions are off, he’s going full-speed.
The Red Sox open a three-game homestand with the Detroit Tigers tomorrow night and I’m sure if the situation calls for it we’ll be seeing plenty of Barnes in the series. He’s not only been one of Alex Cora’s most reliable relievers in 2021 but he’s been one of the best in the entire league. Hopefully, we see his name next to this award again in May as he continues his dominance in search of the next chapter of his career.