On Sunday June 15th, Matt Barnes was slated to make a start for the Pawtucket Red Sox. Instead, Felix Doubront got the start since he needed a rehab start in order to prepare himself to get back to the Major League team. Well, that start went great for Doubront who tossed five no hit innings for the Paw Sox totaling 93 pitches in which he fanned ten batters while walking four.
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In the sixth inning of the game, for the first time of his professional career, Matt Barnes came in as a reliever. Barnes tossed three scoreless innings allowing a pair of hits while fanning a batter. Although some people might see that as just an abbreviated appearance, there could be more to it. This could be a blessing in disguise for Barnes.
A top prospect in the Red Sox organization, Matt Barnes has not pitched great since about mid 2012. Since July of that year, minus the relief appearance, Barnes owns a 4.29 ERA in 203 2/3 innings. Although this is not great, Barnes does have great stuff. His fastball touches 98mph and he also throws a solid curve and change-up. With 142 in 113 1/3 innings last year, Barnes has the swing-and-miss type stuff to make a good reliever. As his curve develops, he should be able to generate even more whiffs making him even more successful.
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Given that Boston already has plenty of starting pitchers lined up ahead of Barnes on the depth chart, the bullpen might just be his calling. In order to get to the big leagues quicker last year, both Brandon Workman and Drake Britton pitched in relief so it is possible that Matt Barnes could do the same thing this year. Realistically, Barnes could not do much to help Boston this year the way he has been starting, but as a reliever there is a chance that he could help this team out.
Overall, Matt Barnes is a talented pitcher, but he has not pitched like someone who deserves a chance in a Major League rotation in a long time. Fortunately for Barnes, he has stuff that transfers well over to the bullpen and that may just be his calling in his big league future. This is not to say that Barnes should never get a chance in the rotation, but the bullpen seems like his best bet for now.