Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer / Getty Images
Despite struggles in 2017, the Red Sox reliever looks to rebound under new management.
The Red Sox selected Matt Barnes in the first round of the 2011 MLB Draft out of the UConn. Initially viewed as a starter, Barnes was highly touted and was later considered an heir to Papelbon’s closer role.
Barnes spent three seasons working his way through the minors, before finally reaching Boston in the summer of 2014.
The tall right hander has proven to be reliable and available out of the bullpen and has flashed his high potential. Barnes has seen his velocity increase from the low and mid 90’s to reach as high as 98 mph. In addition, he has a sharp breaking curveball to keep hitters off balance.
Over the last two seasons, Barnes has thrown more innings than any other Sox reliever. He’s worked in 136.1 innings, while striking out 154, and walking 59.
The enigma of Matt Barnes is his home / road splits.
As the table displays, Barnes was incredibly effective within Fenway Park, but was largely a disaster in many other ballparks. John Farrell trusted the right hander often, but Alex Cora should certainly take note of these splits.
Despite allowing more hits at home, Barnes walked a staggering 12 more hitters on the road, appearing in 8.1 less innings. If Barnes would like to remain a viable option, he must learn to pitch well in other ballparks.
Barnes was left off of the post-season roster after struggling mightily in September (5.59 ERA).
The potential is there, as he’s dominant when he pounds the zone; however the consistency is a must. If he’s able to throw strikes, there is no reason why he can’t rebound in 2018.
Barnes has already reported to Ft. Myers well ahead of the reporting date in order to get a head start. It is worth noting that he has switched from number 68 to 32 for this season.
Under Alex Cora, Matt Barnes will look to become a consistent option out of the ‘pen and take some stress off the likes of Craig Kimbrel, Carson Smith, and Joe Kelly.