I first fell in love with the Brewers during the mid-to-late 90’s, and I can recall with vivid detail how excited I was when the Milwaukee Brewers signed then washed up, 38 year old, Julio Franco in 1997.
Little did I or anyone else know, he would go on to play for 10 more years!
What I most recall about those teams is how good the bullpens always seemed to be. That no matter how bad the offense (cough, Marc Newfield, cough) or the starting pitching (opening day starter, Rafael Roque), during those years, the bullpen stood out.
In that sense, the 2016 Milwaukee Brewers remind me somewhat of those teams. Their offense has sputtered at times and their starting pitching, while seemingly turning a corner, has overall struggled. But their bullpen has been a bright spot and the Milwaukee Brewers added to it yesterday by calling up first time big leaguer, Jacob Barnes. And while he’s technically no longer a Sky Sox, he’s this week’s: Sky Sox Spotlight.
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Jacob Barnes was recently added to the 40-man roster during the off-season, as Tom Haudricourt mentions. Jacob Barnes came to the Milwaukee Brewers as a 14th round draft choice during the mostly disappointing 2011 draft. Like most pitchers drafted, he started off as a starting pitcher, where he showed moderate success. Early in 2015, he was moved to the bullpen and his career began to prosper. In 2015, he threw 75 IP, striking out 84, walking 30, with a 3.36 ERA.
After the season he went to the AFL and threw an eye-popping 11.2 IP, giving up just 6 hits, 3 walks, and 17 strikeouts. Oh, and he didn’t give up a run. In his first full season at Colorado Springs this season, Jacob Barnes has thrown 22.1 IP, given up 14 hits, 7 walks, and 23 strikeouts, while dazzling a 1.21 ERA in very hitter friendly Colorado Springs.
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Craig Counsell had this message at the start of camp, again from Tom Haudricourt.
"When meeting with the pitching first-timers at the outset of camp, Counsell said he imparted this message to them: “Treat it like you’re getting ready for your season and be ready to help this club at some point during the season. That’s how I laid it out to them.”"
While the bullpen as a whole has been fantastic, the backend has seen players come and go. But I don’t see Jacob Barnes leaving anytime soon. Even when Michael Blazek is ready to come of the DL, I see Jacob Barnes continuing his success from the last year and a half.