Matt Barnes in Need of a Strong Outing

by Mark Gallant | Posted on Monday, August 17th, 2015
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matt barnes

On Monday against the Indians, Matt Barnes will be making his first career start in the majors. The former first round pick had success coming out of the bullpen in the early part of the season, however, two rough stretches in June and July have kept Barnes in Pawtucket for the past month and a half. With Steven Wright on the 7-day concussion DL, Barnes has been given another opportunity to make a good impression with the big club.

Once the number two prospect in the Red Sox farm system according to soxprospects.com, the 25-year-old UConn product has reached a key point in his career. If he struggles in his appearances in the majors, he will continue to be sent down to AAA. No player wants to be stuck in that limbo between the majors and minors, especially not a first rounder like Barnes. But, if he can take advantage of opportunities like this one and any others he gets down the stretch, there’s a good chance he will be a part of the Red Sox plan for next season.

Barnes big problem so far in his major league outings has been allowing home runs. In 22.1 innings, he has allowed six home runs, five of which have come on fastballs. He possesses a plus fastball in the mid-90s that has touched 97 this year, but he has grooved far too many in the top half of the zone that major league hitters have taken advantage of. If he can drive that pitch down in the zone, he will keep the ball in the yard much more often.

He hasn’t exactly been lucky on balls hit in the field of play either. Batters are hitting .343 against Barnes this year, but that comes along with a .394 BABIP— about .100 higher than the league average. This can be partially credited to the Red Sox poor defense. Opposing teams have put up a BABIP of .309 against the Red Sox this year, fourth highest in the MLB. Barnes just hasn’t been lucky so far, but that statistic is bound to lower as he pitches more innings.

With Eduardo Rodriguez, Henry Owens, and Brian Johnson all making their major league debuts this season, Barnes has been lost in the shuffle a bit. He does have the potential to be a power pitcher in this organization, though, either as a back-end starter or reliever. He doesn’t exactly have a full arsenal of established pitches yet, as his fastball and curveball have made up for about 90% of his pitches thrown this year. If he can’t improve his changeup, he may be better suited in the bullpen. Considering the performances of the current relievers, there definitely could be a few spots opening up next year for a hard thrower like Barnes. Heck, given the recent success of the bullpen, the Red Sox might give him an extended look at major league hitters as the season winds down.

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Mark Gallant
About the Author

Mark has contributed to isportsweb, the Yawkey Way Report, Fansided's Chowder and Champions, and The Hockey Writers. He is also the host of the weekly radio show Top Shelf Sports on Bryant University's WJMF radio. Follow him on Twitter @TopShelfSports5







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