The Detroit Tigers have to build a complete bullpen during the 2022 season, and it will come from unlikely sources. One of those sources is indeed Jacob Barnes. He’s not the arm people may have expected to be quality, but he’s done what he needs t do; get outs.
It’s still early in the season, but Barnes has appeared in just as many games as Gregory Soto, so he’s getting his usage. A.J. Hinch has relied on him early in games before going to the high-leverage arms in the bullpen, and it’s worked out well.
Somewhere out there, Detroit Jock City contributor Eli Paszek is scoffing at this article. We’ve talked about Barnes and his usage, and I could not sell him on Barnes being a mid-innings reliever who is the bridge to the regulars.
In 2022, Barnes has been a regular in this mid-innings role since the rotation is not quite up to speed, and now they are missing some of their key arms due to injuries. Thus far, Barnes’s performance has been exceptional, and he’s been efficient.
Detroit Tigers reliever Jacob Barnes is being utilized perfectly.
The Tigers have given Barnes the ball five times in the 2022 season, accruing 5.1 innings pitched where he has allowed just two hits, surrendered zero walks, zero runs, and allowed just one extra-base hit.
He may only have two punchouts to his credit in 2022, but it ultimately does not matter. He’s not going to be a pitcher who goes out and strikes out the side; it’s not his way of attacking hitters. Barnes works efficiently, utilizing his pitch mix to fool the opposition and produce weak contact.
So far in 2022, he has done an impeccable job pitching to his strengths. Rather than trying to overpower hitters with a low- to mid-90s fastball, he’s used his movement profiles and pitch mix to leave hitters rolling over, popping out, and earning easy outs.
He’s lived with the fastball and cutter combination, with a few sliders picked up for his 2022 Baseball Savant arsenal report, but it seems as if the slider is similar to his cutter, just a slower pitch with some more depth.
Nonetheless, it has worked. It’s not to say that Barnes will go out and be the team’s new high-leverage relief arm. But if he can continue to be the go-between for the Tigers in 2022, it is going to produce great results.
He’s been used in the fifth or sixth inning in four out of his five appearances. The Tigers have used him early when leading and later in games where they trail and use him. If they are smart, the team will continue to use Barnes in this role.