Detroit Tigers: Jacob Barnes has a chance to earn a bullpen position

(Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)
(Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports) /

Amid some of the Detroit Tigers’ injuries that hindered their roster to start the 2022 season, leading to some call-backs from the minor-league roster. One of those players who was called back to big-league camp and will have a spot on the Tigers roster is reliever Jacob Barnes.

The Detroit Tigers opted to take a flier on Barnes, which is not the worst idea. Now, looking at the Tigers roster, he’s not going to be a huge addition, but there is value to what Barnes can bring to the table.

Though he is more than likely going to be considered a depth arm and spend the bulk of his time with the Toledo Mud Hens in Triple-A, the Tigers should be looking to give Barnes a chance. Letting Fetter work with him will only help his ceiling for the 2022 season.

For Barnes, it’s going to be a refining of how he attacks hitters. Despite a lack of success so far, Barnes’s stuff should allow him to be serviceable and could have him be a quality early-bullpen option for the Tigers.

Detroit Tigers reliever Jacob Barnes has a chance ahead of him.

Barnes has bounced around the league for the past six seasons, spending time with six teams (now including the Tigers), and has a career 4.61 ERA over 226.2 innings pitched. He’s coming off of the 2021 season, where he accrued 28.2 innings pitched, where he had a 6.28 ERA and a 1.47 WHIP.

But the standard statistics are not exactly what drives Barnes and what he should be judged on. He needs to refine his pitch mix and utilize his fastball-slider/cutter combo in better ways. If Fetter works with him to figure out ways to attack hitters better, the Tigers may have some use for the right-handed depth arm.

Barnes has a fastball that averages 95.2 mph. He pairs that with what Baseball Savant labels a cutter at 89.5 mph with tighter movement than a slider. If Fetter can work to mix in a slider that may be slower with more defined movement, the Tigers pitching development should be able to work to build plans for Barnes to attack hitters.

For example, Barnes gets 11.9 inches of vertical break on his fastball and 2.8 inches of horizontal movement. Not to mention that he spins at around 2300-2400 RPMs, so being able to use this non-dead-zone pitch to try and pair with a better breaking ball, there’s got to be a way for him to get outs.

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The Tigers should exploit this, and Fetter has to have worked with him this Spring to try and get some things figured out. That being said, this trial with the Tigers will be Barnes’s chance to succeed and prove to the Tigers that he should be kept around.