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
Pitcher Garrett Whitlock #72 of the Boston Red Sox (Photo By Winslow Townson/Getty Images) /

Boston Red Sox closer candidate No. 1: Garrett Whitlock

That top option would be Garrett Whitlock. It’s become increasingly clear throughout the course of the season that Whitlock is special, and the fact that he was scooped up in the Rule 5 draft makes things even better. As this month has progressed, Whitlock has proven to be Boston’s best reliever, and as his responsibilities have increased, he’s just continued to set down hitters with ease.

Take his most recent outing against the Texas Rangers, which was just a masterful display of clutch pitching. Whitlock immediately entered the game with runners on second and third with just one out after Barnes threw away a 3-1 lead. Whitlock buckled down, and made sure the game would at least be heading to extras, which it ended up doing.

Whitlock continued to mercilessly mow down the Rangers lineup. He did give up a potentially catastrophic run in the10th, but rebounded with a clean 11th once given the chance. The Red Sox needed someone from the bullpen to step up and get some outs, and you can make a case that Whitlock won Boston this game.

That’s what closers are supposed to do. When the game is on the line, you call upon your best guy to finish off the opposing team. That’s what Barnes had been for most of the season, but he just isn’t anymore.

Whitlock is now that guy. Sporting a sterling 1.64 ERA, Whitlock has easily been the Sox best reliver this season, especially with Barnes seemingly forgetting how to pitch. Put your best guy in the biggest spots, and let him go to work. That’s what Cora did in that game against Texas, and Boston came away with a victory as a result.

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While it’s certainly more likely that Robles or Ottavino will find themselves closing games in the near future, Whitlock has to be considered the top option here. Nobody has been able to get guys out like he has this season, and that hasn’t wavered as he has been used in more late game situations. Boston needs to get every win they can right now, and inserting Whitlock as their closer is their best shot at winning these games, especially the close ones.