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Former UConn pitcher Matt Barnes named to MLB All-Star Game

Barnes is having a career year for the Boston Red Sox as one of the best closers in baseball.

MLB: Boston Red Sox at New York Yankees Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Eight years into his major league career, former UConn pitcher Matt Barnes is an All-Star for the first time. The Boston Red Sox closer will head to Denver as part of the American League’s staff of 12 pitchers.

Barnes is having the best year of his career so far, posting a 2.68 ERA (over a full run better than his previous low) in 37.0 innings while striking out 62 — second-best among closers in the AL. He also owns a 0.87 WHIP, the first time he’s been below 1.00 in his career.

Though the 31-year old has spent the last few seasons as a high-leverage set-up man, this is his first full season as the Red Sox closer. To this point, Barnes has thrived in his new role, converting 19 of 23 save opportunities.

In fact, Barnes has been so good this year that NESN play-by-play announcer Dave O’Brien gave him the nickname “Nasty Boy”.

This is the fourth consecutive All-Star Game that will feature a former Husky. George Springer started in the outfield for the American League in 2017 and 2019 while being a reserve selection in 2018. MLB did not hold an All-Star Game in 2020 due to the pandemic.