Following a 3-2 loss to the New York Yankees Tuesday night, all the focus was again shifted to the highly criticized bullpen. After six shutout innings by Nathan Eovaldi, Brandon Workman was pulled after walking two batters for Ryan Brasier, who gave up a three-run home run to Neil Walker. The blown save now marks the Red Sox 12th in 24 opportunities since the All-Star break, which is the most in AL. While the concern grows day in and day out, manager Alex Cora hinted postgame at how he'd use his bullpen in the future: "When healthy.. it's Kimbrel, Barnes and Brasier and go from there.." When healthy is the key word, as Matt Barnes has not been available since September 3rd due to hip inflammation. However, Barnes might be nearing a return and will pitch a bullpen session on Wednesday in New York. If the bullpen goes as planned, Barnes could be back in action next week.
"Barnesy was here for treatment," Cora said. "He'll throw a bullpen tomorrow, and hopefully we can get him back during the week. We've got a plan mapped out for him. It's just a matter of how he comes out of the bullpen tomorrow. Maybe live BP and get him back in action early next week."
While Barnes might not solve all the Red Sox woes, he certainly has the ability to help. In 58 appearances this season (58.1 innings), Barnes supports a 3.39 ERA, but was struggling before being injured.
Before the All-Star break, Barnes appeared in 41 games and posted a 2.39 ERA. Since then, his ERA sits at 6.06 in just 17 appearances. Perhaps Barnes' biggest issue was surrounding the long ball. After allowing just one home run from March to July, he gave up four in August.
Maybe some time off allowed Barnes to figure out what has went wrong since the All-Star break, and he can rebound nicely to provide a valuable role for the Red Sox postseason run.