Red Sox closer Matt Barnes left off ALCS roster
Instead, the bullpen for the pennant series includes Ryan Brasier, Darwinzon Hernandez, Tanner Houck, Adam Ottavino, Martín Pérez, Hansel Robles, Hirokazu Sawamura, Josh Taylor, and Garrett Whitlock. Hernandez and Sawamura have yet to make their postseason debuts.
Barnes was also initially left off the ALDS roster but replaced Garrett Richards, who exited the series due to a hamstring injury. Barnes pitched one inning in one game against the Rays, allowing a hit and issuing two walks, but ultimately escaped the inning clean.
During the 2021 regular season, Barnes closed one game against the Astros. He allowed one hit and didn’t strike anyone out, but kept the Astros scoreless to get a Sox win.
Barnes’ ERA nearly tripled from the first half of the season (2.61) to the second (6.48). And while his career numbers in 14 games against the Astros aren’t stellar, a 4.91 ERA over 14 2/3 innings with eight earned runs and eight walks, with Astros batters slashing .281/.364/.474 with a .837 OPS against him, his postseason numbers are excellent. He has an overall 0.79 ERA in the postseason. He also has an overall 2.57 ERA in seven career games at Minute Maid Park.
It’s concerning that Cora opted for two pitchers who have zero postseason pitching experience over Barnes, who has made 12 career postseason appearances, including pitching in every game of the 2018 ALCS against the Astros, though he did give up the only earned run of his postseason career to them.
Lance McCullers Jr. is not on the Astros ALCS roster
For their part, the Astros left star pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. off the ALCS roster. He has been dealing with forearm tightness, and GM James Click confirmed that he had an MRI this week. McCullers previously missed the entire 2019 season recovering from Tommy John surgery.
The Red Sox have a solid bullpen without Barnes as well as Cora’s proven method of using starting pitchers in relief roles during the postseason, but this roster decision speaks to a larger issue. Barnes was given a lucrative extension earlier this season and should be contributing to his team. His numbers aren’t bad enough to be the sole reason he’s not on the ALCS roster, so the Sox must know something we don’t.