Table of Contents
- 1 Barnes said watching a video of a recent performance and comparing it to a Red Sox game from last season helped him tighten up his delivery.
Danny Santana, former Red Sox utility man, suspended for 80 games due to PED use
‘Something about his leg kick’: Alex Cora hopes Red Sox found mechanical issue causing Matt Barnes’s velocity problem
Things haven’t quite been going Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes’s way since his All-Star first half of the 2021 season.
First, his ERA ballooned post-All Star break and his effectiveness bottomed out to the point that he was left off the ALCS roster. Then, coming into this season, his velocity has been noticeably down, with his fastball topping out in the 92-93 mph range this spring as opposed to the 95.8 mph average he boasted last season.
Fortunately, manager Alex Cora suggested this past weekend he and Barnes had discovered what the problem might be and had set to work fixing it.
“I think it’s something about his leg kick,” Cora told reporters on Sunday. “Last year he was a lot tighter. Now he’s like loose. If you want to use a reference, it’s like a figure skater. When you open, it slows down. When you close, you’re actually faster, quicker. So hopefully that’s what gets him going.”
Barnes himself shed additional light on that discovery process after a question from WEEI’s Rob Bradford on Tuesday morning about how he and Cora independently stumbled on the same realization.
“My wife had sent me a video of me pitching,” Barnes explained. “I start looking at the actual video and I’m like, ‘man, it looks like my leg and arms are really far away from my body. I’m really upright and kind of stiff.’
“So I go to my phone, and I’ve got a video the Red Sox posted on social media in May of last year from behind…so I go through, stop it, zoom in, screenshot both, I’m swiping back and forth between them. I’m sitting in my car after the game in the parking lot here. I’m looking at it, and I’m like, ‘well in this one, I’m a lot more compact in my delivery. In this one, I’m upright and kind of away from myself.’”
The pitcher then recounts how Cora came to him in the training room the next morning with a similar observation, prompting the two to head to the video room to have a meeting of the minds and come up with a game plan to make adjustments.
“I take it out into the game yesterday, and I finally feel like I have the carry through the baseball,” Barnes said. “The curveball felt like it was sharper. I could command it. I wasn’t pulling off of stuff. I was like, ‘Perfect!’”
Cora said Monday he had noticed a change in Barnes after adjusting his delivery as well, though the righty’s velocity still needs work.
“But you can see the hop on the fastball. At the end of the day we talk about the velocity but I think the action of the fastball, he will get it back,” the Red Sox manager said.
Sign up for Red Sox updates⚾
Get breaking news and analysis delivered to your inbox during baseball season.