Boston Red Sox: 2 thoughts on dominant sweep over the New York Mets

J.D. Martinez #28 of the Boston Red Sox congratulates Xander Bogaerts #2 (Photo By Winslow Townson/Getty Images)
J.D. Martinez #28 of the Boston Red Sox congratulates Xander Bogaerts #2 (Photo By Winslow Townson/Getty Images) /
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Boston Red Sox
Matt Barnes #32 of the Boston Red Sox (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images) /

2 thoughts on the Boston Red Sox demolition of the New York Mets

No. 2: Bullpen has been better, but still needs to be fixed

The Red Sox bullpen has been a sore spot for most of the second half of the season, but they have looked much better for the most part in September. Even more telling is they had to navigate a difficult stretch where COVID wiped out some of their key arms, such as Matt Barnes, Hirokazu Sawamura, and Josh Taylor. Aside from Garrett Whitlock’s recent injury, everyone is back in action, which is a good sign with the playoffs on the horizon.

But there are still some major concerns with this group as the season finishes up. The biggest one has to be Matt Barnes. Quite frankly, with the way Barnes has been pitching recently, it’s hard to believe he was an All-Star this season, and generally regarded as one of the better closers in the league too.

Barnes has collapsed into an unrecognizable version of himself, leaving Boston’s bullpen without a true closer as they head into the playoffs. For reference, Barnes ERA heading into August was 2.25; it now sits at 3.88. He hasn’t pitched a clean inning in nearly a month either. He gets outs sometimes, but he manages to make it look as painful as possible in the process, usually giving up a mirage of walks or base hits before mercifully getting pulled or getting out of the inning.

Barnes somehow managed to make a 12-5 blowout over the Mets have a bad moment last night. He was the first reliever out of the pen in the sixth inning, and came on with an 11-2 lead at the time. Yet Barnes was only able to get one out before he loaded the bases, and was then pulled in favor of Ryan Brasier, who somehow limited the damage to just one run being charged to Barnes.

More concerning is the fact Barnes threw 21 pitches, and only eight of them were strikes. You’d figure with a nine run lead he’d be willing to pound the strike zone, but Barnes couldn’t throw strikes or get outs in a game that was realistically over before he even came into it. It’s worth wondering whether or not he will have a spot in the bullpen on the playoff roster.

Another minor concern is Eduardo Rodriguez, who appears to be alternating great starts with awful ones at this point. He struggled again on Tuesday night, and it may be time to swap him out of the rotation for Garrett Richards, who has only given up three earned runs in 23 innings since being sent to the bullpen. They may not want to risk ruining Richards recent stretch of good pitching, but it’s something to consider as the playoffs approach.