For any fans who didn’t watch the game tonight, Matt Barnes saved the day. When Craig Kimbrel decided it was okay to get 2 outs then walk 4 straight guys, Barnes came in from the pen to get Texeira out with bases loaded and only a 2 run lead. This moment was just another big event that showcased Barnes’ strengths as a back bullpen pitcher. Earlier in the season, he came in with bases loaded no outs in a one run lead ball game to take the division lead. He quickly got a strikeout and a double play ball to get out of the inning, allowing the Sox to win the game.
However, very few fans know that Barnes was on the chopping block after last season. Posting a 5.44 ERA with 4 losses and only 3 holds, management began to showcase his high velocity and good tail towards the end of the season by allowing him to start some games. The reason for showcasing him was to see if they could get any trade offer in the offseason. No teams bit and Barnes would continue to be a Red Sox into next year.
However, this year Matt has totally flipped. Through 51 innings pitched, his ERA is 3.00, which is a little below average but is no indication of how he has pitched this year. Also, the ERA was inflated by a two run homer from former UCONN and travel ball teammate George Springer, and a three run Kepler walk off in the 10th. Subtract those two moments, and Barnes is looking at about a nice 2.50 ERA, with 8 holds on the year. Lastly, his arsenal includes a fastball in the upper 90s and a curveball with a sharp hook.
Matt will be a great asset looking forward to the end of the year and also next year. This year, he can continue to throw flames in the back end of the bullpen and get outs in the later innings. After the Kimbrel ERA is over, Barnes could be looking at a job as the Sox closer, or could continue to be a great setup man if Kopech is ready to be a big league closer. To sum it up, Matt Barnes is no doubt a stud in the bullpen, and the Sox need to keep him in the organization.