Matt Barnes as next Red Sox closer? Here's his response to potential role


The Boston Red Sox lost reliever Joe Kelly and still haven't re-signed Craig Kimbrel in free agency, so it looks like the next closer will come from within the organization.

Kimbrel was the Red Sox closer over the last three seasons and filled the role quite well, helping the team win the 2018 World Series. He's currently a free agent and it appears that a return is not in the cards.

So, who's next up at the back of the Boston bullpen? Matt Barnes is one of the better options for the Red Sox, and he recently spoke on MLB Network about possibly filling the closer role for defending champs.

“There is something different about the last three outs of the game in the ninth inning,” Barnes said. “Anybody who has pitched the ninth inning in a save situation -- I've done it a few times, not many. But I've had the opportunity to do it a couple times. It is different. But I think having gone through that postseason run and pitched in big spots -- the ALDS, coming in with runners on. The ALCS in a situation where if you give up a hit it could be the difference in the game. And then the World Series in general. 

"Those are such high-pressure situations that, if I am fortunate enough to be in that role and they trust me in that role and want to give me that opportunity, having gone through everything in the postseason last year, I can’t imagine that a save situation is going to have more pressure or be more high-leverage in the second week in April than Game 3 or Game 4 of the World Series.”

Barnes certainly has a lot of experience from last season to draw from as he prepares for 2019.

He went 6-4 with a 3.65 ERA, a 1.26 WHIP, 96 strikeouts and 31 walks over 61 2/3 innings last season. He did not tally a save and also blew three saves. Barnes was better in the postseason, though, posting a 1.04 ERA, a 1.04 WHIP and allowing just three hits in 8 2/3 innings. 

The 28-year-old right-hander has never been a closer at the MLB level, but given the lack of options in the Red Sox bullpen, he's probably the best choice to close games entering the 2019 campaign.

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