We are just weeks away from pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training, and the Boston Red Sox still have questions that need answering in regards to their pitching staff.
The biggest question of the offseason has been who the closer will be for the defending World Series championships in 2019.
Craig Kimbrel remains a free agent, but it appears the Sox still are willing to wait out the free-agent market to make a choice on the ninth inning.
The other best options at this point seem to be in-house.
Matt Barnes and Ryan Braiser both are among the candidates for the closer’s role heading into camp in Fort Myers, Fla.
Appearing on MLB Network Radio on Friday, Barnes says he thinks he is prepared to take on the role given the high-leverage innings he logged in last year’s World Series run.
“There is something different about the last three outs of the game in the ninth inning,” Barnes said. “But I think having gone through that postseason run and pitched in big spots, … 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 has appeared in at least 62 games in each of the past three seasons for the Sox and posted a 3.65 ERA in 61 2/3 innings pitched in 2018 with a career-high 25 holds as Boston’s go-to option in the eighth inning. He was dynamite in the postseason, appearing in 10 games, and allowed one earned run in 8 2/3 innings while striking out nine. He has two career saves.
Thumbnail photo via Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports