Milwaukee Brewers reliever Jacob Barnes has appeared in 11 games so far this season. He has a 0.00 ERA. In 11 1/3 innings, he’s been scored on once, and that was an unearned run. Is Barnes really this good?
If you were watching Barnes after his return the Major League team in September 2016, his start to the 2017 season wouldn’t be a shock. Barnes made 11 appearances in the last few weeks of the 2016 season, and he was virtually untouchable during his second stint with the Milwaukee Brewers. In 9 2/3 innings, he struck out eight, walked two, and surrendered exactly one earned run.
In his 11 appearances this April, Jacob Barnes has surrendered only four hits and four walks while fanning 14. He’s also notched four holds and one save. That is a fantastic month from a pitcher who appears to be locked in.
With a three-pitch mix, Barnes has a future beyond high leverage situations in the seventh and eighth innings. Featuring a fastball that averages 96.0 MPH, a cutter that sits at 90.4 MPH, and a slider that he can mix in at 86.8 MPH, it’s all power, all the time from Barnes, and that power is destined for the ninth inning.
Barnes has everything a manager would want in a closer. He’s brutal on righties, and solid against lefties, so he can’t be platooned against. He has the pitch repertoire and the size. He even appears to have the icy cool demeanor that the best relievers bring to the mound to nail down victories.
Barnes will likely allow an earned run before it’s all said and done, but he’s also providing the Brewers with a weapon in their bullpen that they haven’t had in years. With a blazing fastball, a scary cutter, and a competent slider, Barnes has already jumped ahead of Corey Knebel in the pecking order, and should be first in line to earn saves once Neftali Feliz is out of the picture.
Whether the change in the ninth inning happens this season or next, Barnes will continue to dominate in the late innings until he finds himself in the closer’s role, but it’s simply a matter of time and opportunity for the Brewers’ dominating reliever.