Boston Red Sox: 3 candidates to replace Matt Barnes as team’s closer

Matt Barnes #32 of the Boston Red Sox (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
Matt Barnes #32 of the Boston Red Sox (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images) /
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Boston Red Sox
Hansel Robles #56 of the Boston Red Sox (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images) /

It’s been a rough couple of weeks for the Boston Red Sox. Their once commanding lead of the AL East disappeared into thin air, as they watched the Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees leapfrog over them in the standings. Now, a team once seemingly set for the playoffs is battling just to hang onto the second wild card spot in the American League.

There have been many reasons for their struggles, and we have probably covered just about every one of them here at Chowder & Champions. But one player who has really come to personify the teams struggles is Matt Barnes.

Barnes has excelled for most of the season, and even earned himself his first All-Star appearance earlier this season as a result. But Barnes has morphed into an almost unplayable pitcher throughout the month of August for some reason. His ERA entering the month was 2.30; it now sits at 3.91 after his latest blunder against the Minnesota Twins last night.

Barnes is very nearly unplayable at this point, as he simply cannot get outs. Not to mention, he’s currently imploding as the closer, easily the most important part of the bullpen. With manager Alex Cora not committing to Barnes as the closer for the foreseeable future, here are three potential closer candidates to replace Barnes should he ultimately get removed.

Boston Red Sox closer candidate No. 3: Hansel Robles

Hansel Robles came in and did major damage control last night to help the Sox pick up a much needed win, and earned himself his first save with his new team. It may not be his last one too if Barnes ends up getting removed from his current role.

Of the remaining relievers on the Red Sox roster, Robles probably has the most experience closing out games. He already had 10 saves on the season before last night from his time in Minnesota, and very recently had a spectacular 23 save season with the Los Angeles Angels in 2019. Robles hasn’t been fantastic during his initial appearences with Boston, but last night proved he can be an effective option to close out games when needed.

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In fact, Robles has now gone six straight outings without giving up a run, which is a welcome sight considering how bad his first few appearences were. After initially struggling, it looks like Robles may be finally finding his groove.

There is a ton of risk with giving Robles this much responsibility however. He’s been streaky during his short stint in Boston, but that’s pretty much how he has been throughout his entire career. He has a career ERA of 4.05, and his ERA for this season still sits at a bloated 4.89 even after his recent hot stretch.

One thing is for sure though; Robles came in and finished off a game that Barnes couldn’t last night. Winning games is all that matters at this stage of the season, and if Robles has the hot hand, there’s no reason for him to not be closing games out. It seems somewhat crazy to say, but right now Robles seems like the safer bet to close out games at this point.