Blue Jays: It’s time to talk about Danny Barnes

May 12, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays relief pitcher Danny Barnes (24) delivers a pitch against the Seattle Mariners at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
May 12, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays relief pitcher Danny Barnes (24) delivers a pitch against the Seattle Mariners at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports /

The Toronto Blue Jays’ bullpen has gone under quite a few changes from the beginning of the season until now. Roles for certain relievers changed and guys from AAA have come up and seemed to have solidify themselves as legitimate MLB relievers. That brings us to Danny Barnes, who should be cemented into the Blue Jays’ bullpen for the remainder of 2017 and beyond.

As mentioned above, the Blue Jays bullpen has undergone some significant changes since the regular season began. Lefty J.P. Howell has found himself on the disabled list earlier, and in the middle of some serious struggles with a 9.00 ERA and 12.00 BB/9. Keep in mind, that sample size is only 3.0 innings and 7 appearances. However, the serious struggles of Howell has led to him not playing a big role in the bullpen, like he was supposed to do when he was signed. For the time being, Howell will not find himself in high leverage situations.

The other member of the bullpen who has struggled out of the gate is Jason Grilli, who has thrown to the tune of a 7.94 ERA and 7.51 FIP in 11.1 innings. Like Howell, he has struggled in the BB department with a 7.15 BB/9.

Both Grilli and Howell were supposed to be key cogs in the bullpen to get the ball game over to Roberto Osuna. Luckily, reliever Joe Smith has been phenomenal with a 2.00 ERA and 1.84 FIP. The Blue Jays have been fortunate to have 3 relievers who have stepped up and seemingly taken over the 7th and 8th innings. Smith has taken over from Grilli as the 8th inning guy, while a combination of Ryan Tepera and Danny Barnes have taken over the 7th. I’ve covered Ryan Tepera in a past article, so now it’s time to talk about Danny Barnes.

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Barnes was taken by the Blue Jays in 2010 in the 35th round of the draft, 1056th overall. He made his major league debut in 2016 in his 7th season in the Blue Jays organization, and he has the potential to be a back of the bullpen type arm for the long term for the Blue Jays.

Barnes could have been in the big leagues earlier, but a rotator cuff injury in 2013 slowed down his development. When you look at the right-hander’s numbers throughout his minor league career, it’s easy to see why people are high on him.

The below numbers are Barnes’ numbers throughout his MiLB career wherever he’s thrown more than 25.0 innings:

  • 2010 – GCL Blue Jays – 27.0 IP, 0.67 ERA, 1.74 FIP
  • 2011 – Lansing Lugnuts – 66.0 IP, 2.32 ERA, 1.95 FIP
  • 2012 – Dunedin Blue Jays – 51.1 IP, 1.40 ERA, 2.63 FIP
  • 2013 – Rotator Cuff Injury
  • 2014 – Dunedin Blue Jays – 38.2 IP, 4.19 ERA, 3.21 FIP
  • 2015 – New Hampshire Fisher Cats – 60.2 IP, 2.97 ERA, 2.89 FIP
  • 2016 – New Hampshire Fisher Cats – 35.2 IP, 1.01 ERA, 2.55 FIP
  • 2016 – Buffalo Bisons – 25.2 IP, 0.35 ERA, 0.75 FIP

Those are some pretty dominant numbers. Barnes can be given a mulligan on 2014 as well considering his was coming off of an injury.

What is it that makes Danny Barnes so dominant? He has an electric changeup that is about 12.0 MPH slower than his fastball. He locates his fastball and changeup very well and gets a lot of swings and misses. He has a career 10.7 swinging strike percentage. He also has wicked movement on his changeup which makes it a weapon, as evidenced by the -37.28 inches in vertical movement with gravity taken into affect. The changeup also has a whiff percentage of 8.89. It’s filthy.

Barnes does not throw overly hard. His fastball has an average MPH of 91.9. It’s his ability to locate that makes him so tough to square up. Combine that with his changeup and mixing in an occasional slider, and he has 3 good pitches.

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Danny Barnes has been dominant his entire MiLB career and he’s taking that into the majors as well. Barnes has a 1.35 ERA and 1.73 FIP through 13.1 IP thrown this season. With the struggles of Jason Grilli and J.P. Howell, Barnes should be here to stay as a late inning reliever to help get the ball to Roberto Osuna. Barnes will be here for years to come at the back end of the Blue Jays bullpen.