The plan is simple, use the best arms you have available when you need them most.
After the Red Sox stormed back to beat the Oakland A’s 6-3 last night, we finally have an idea as to how Alex Cora is going to manage his bullpen this year.
With two outs and the game tied in the seventh and slugger Khris Davis at the plate, Cora went with his top guy – Matt Barnes.
Matt Barnes enters a 3-3 game in the 7th with two outs to face Khris Davis.
This is how it should work. Use your best guys when you need them, not to chase a useless stat.
— Pete Abraham (@PeteAbe) April 4, 2019
Matt Barnes, who was assumed to be the ‘closer’, after earning the save in the Sox win over the Seattle Mariners last week, struck Khris Davis. He went on to pitch a scoreless eight as well. Barnes stepped up when Cora and the Red Sox needed him to.
Curve, curve, 96 mph, curve. Filthy. And Davis strikes out on a ball in the dirt.
— Jason Mastrodonato (@JMastrodonato) April 4, 2019
Once the Red Sox took the lead off of a Mookie Betts double in the top of the ninth, it was Ryan Braiser who got the call to close it out. The result: Brasier’s first career save.
When speaking to the media after the game last night, Alex Cora said, “Relievers now, that’s what they do – they close games, get people out. We just need outs. We saw the matchup we wanted, we didn’t hesitate. [Barnes] did a good job against Davis. Then he didn’t panic when we threw the ball away and there’s a runner at third… Brewer was outstanding. Brasier was good too.”
We've had very small opportunities to see Cora use his bullpen in leverage situations. And with Barnes facing Davis in the seventh, we are seeing how matchup-oriented this will be.
— Ian Browne (@IanMBrowne) April 4, 2019
Barnes added, “It’s going to be fun. I’ve kind of done a little bit more of that over the last year, too. Moving forward, it’s fun. It really is. Those are the moments you really get fired up for, you get jacked up for. Coming in a big spot and being able to do your job and help the guys win. That’s the most important thing.”
The bullpen has been the bright spot so far this season. After many thought it would be the downfall to the Sox title defense, the relievers, led by Matt Barnes and Ryan Braiser, have been lights out, sporting a 2.42 ERA (5th in MLB).
After opting to let Craig Kimbrel walk this past offseason, the Boston Red Sox don’t have a ‘closer’.
And that’s okay.