Down the stretch last year I watched a lot of games, (for... reasons). I thought Barnes looked pretty good. Meanwhile, Brasier was a laser show.
Am I remembering correctly that he (Brasier) lead the league in exit velocity?
Robles did, then Familia and Ort, in descending order, over their small sample sizes. Batters had higher average exit velocity against Barnes and Pivetta than Brasier.
Brasier's not a great pitcher and doesn't seem especially likable, but now that his job security has become a kind of meme his futility has become way overstated. He's fine, and I can see how the Sox think he's useful.
How Brasier ranks among 253 qualified MLB relievers who threw 30+ innings in 2022 (value)
BB%: 15th (4.9%)
K/BB: 22nd (4.92)
O-Swing%/Chase rate: 17th (38.6%)
BABIP: 29th-highest (.335)
Average FB velocity: 65th (96.0 mph)
FIP: 132nd (3.61)
xFIP: 83rd (3.49)
ERA-FIP: 8th (meaning he had the eighth-largest difference between ERA and FIP in MLB, suggesting extreme unluckiness)
How Barnes ranks
BB%: 209th (11.9%)
K/BB: 234th (1.62)
O-Swing%/Chase rate: 212th (29.3%)
BABIP: 89th-highest (.293)
Average FB velocity: 107th (95.0)
FIP: 152nd (3.87)
xFIP: 243nd (4.97)
The case for Brasier is that he throws strikes and he throws hard. He had the 15th best walk rate among all relievers in MLB last year, and was generally very unlucky (or selectively bad in high leverage situations, as others have pointed out). He's fine. If he were a Dodger, he'd be Phil Bickford, a useful reliever who sometimes gives up loud solo shots. If he were an Astro, he'd be Phil Maton.