By Matt McCarthy, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Red Sox open up the 2019 season in 24 days and there is still no clarity on who will be closing games for them.
Will they even have a defined closer at all?
In a press conference on Sunday in Fort Myers, Red Sox manager Alex Cora indicated that he is in no rush to announce who his closer will be.
“We know who [the options] are. We know the stuff. It’s just about the plan. The plan will be out there on March 28,” Cora told the media. “We’ve just got to make sure everyone is healthy and ready to go for March 28. If that’s the case, we’ll go one way or another, but I have a pretty good idea of what I want to do.”
If Cora names a closer, Matt Barnes and Ryan Brasier would appear to be the two top candidates for the job.
But the Red Sox could choose not to name a ninth inning man and adopt a closer-by-committee approach, based on comments made by pitching coach Dana LeVangie.
“It could be (one pitcher) this day, depending on the lineup, and you get the ninth (on another day),” LeVangie told Chad Jennings of The Athletic. “I think we’re willing to do that. I think we have the guys to be able to do that.”
The team has hesitated to use the term “closer-by-committee” publicly after infamously implementing a similar plan in 2003. When the approach yielded disastrous results, the Sox traded third baseman Shea Hillenbrand for Arizona righty Byung-Hyun Kim in May of that year.
The Red Sox say that if they do not name a closer to start the year, they would limit the number of arms used in the late innings in an attempt to more clearly define roles in the bullpen.
The team has made it clear that they do not envision a reunion with free agent closer Craig Kimbrel.