The Boston Red Sox are the best team in baseball right now. They are 10 games ahead of the second best team in baseball at the moment, and it seems like nothing can go wrong. The Red Sox lead the league in batting average, runs scored, hits, and many more. They also are second to only Houston in ERA with 3.48. However, there are a few questions for the Sox heading into the postseason. One of those questions is who is the setup guy in the 8th inning for the Red Sox before Kimbrel comes in. This article will look at three candidates to be the 8th inning guy for the Boston Red Sox.

Matt Barnes #32

The first candidate for this role is right-handed pitcher, Matt Barnes. Barnes has been with the Red Sox since 2014, and has a career ERA of 3.93. He has the lowest ERA for any qualifying reliever on the Sox with a 2.60 ERA. Barnes also leads all Red Sox relievers, other than Craig Kimbrel, in WAR with 1.7. In the first half of the season, Barnes was a solid option in the bullpen with a 2.36 ERA through 42 IP.  July was the best month for him, with a 1.46 ERA while holding opposing batters to a .188 batting average. He’s also good with men in scoring position, allowing only seven hits against 58 batters.

Barnes’ August so far has not been anything too good. In five IP, Barnes has allowed three ER to get him a 5.40 ERA for the month. Overall, Barnes has been the most steady option in the bullpen other than Kimbrel, throughout the entire year.

Ryan Brasier #70

If you have never heard of Ryan Brasier, you have now. He entered the MLB in 2013 for the Angels, and since then he played in the minors for Oakland and in the Japan Central League. Before the 2018 season, the Boston Red Sox signed him to a minor-league deal, and he spent most of his time in Pawtucket. While he was in Pawtucket, Brasier had a 1.34 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 25 IP.

In July, Brasier was called up to the Red Sox, and has since appeared in 15 games for the team. In those 15 games, Brasier has a 1.13 ERA and a 0.813 WHIP in 16 IP. He can get out of tough situations. With men in scoring position, Brasier has held opposing batters to a 0.77 batting average, and two runs against 14 batters faced.

Overall, Brasier has been a great addition for the Boston Red Sox. He has shown what he can do since he has been called up, and if he stays hot, he should get the role in the 8th inning.

Joe Kelly #56

Joe Kelly has had a roller-coaster of a season for the Red Sox. It seemed like Kelly had the 8th- inning role locked down early in the season. In March/April, Kelly had a 3.09 ERA, and held batters to a .150 batting average. Things only got better as had a 0.63 ERA through 14.1 innings pitching. At the time, many people believed he was an All-Star candidate, but things changed. In June, Kelly had an 8.31 ERA, followed by a 8.38 ERA in July.

Kelly has seemed to turn things around this year. So far in the month of August he has a 1.80 ERA through five IP. If the Sox can get Kelly back to his May stats, they will give him the 8th inning role.

Final Verdict:

As of August 16th, Ryan Brasier is the best guy in the bullpen other than Craig Kimbrel. He has shown in high-pressure situations he can get guys out, and has really helped the Red Sox since he arrived here.

Even though the Red Sox are by far the best team in baseball, they still have their problems. If they can get their 8th inning situation figured out, they will only get better.