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Barnes delivers scoreless relief in KC debut

Kansas City promotes right-hander, options Skoglund to Omaha
@FlannyMLB
August 13, 2019

KANSAS CITY -- This is the time of the season when the Royals will take a peek at what arms they have who could help their rebuilding process. And so on Tuesday, the club called up right-hander Jacob Barnes and optioned left-hander Eric Skoglund back to Triple-A Omaha. Barnes saw

KANSAS CITY -- This is the time of the season when the Royals will take a peek at what arms they have who could help their rebuilding process.

And so on Tuesday, the club called up right-hander Jacob Barnes and optioned left-hander Eric Skoglund back to Triple-A Omaha. Barnes saw his first action in Tuesday night’s 2-0 loss to the Cardinals at Kauffman Stadium -- logging a scoreless two-thirds of an inning with one strikeout.

Skoglund, who was suspended for 80 games to start the season for being in violation of Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, was called up on Friday as somewhat of an emergency long-relief option for an overworked bullpen.

“We don’t want Skoglund up here sitting,” manager Ned Yost said. “We needed some length when he was called up. But he has missed half a year and needs to pitch.

“We’re in a good spot again with our bullpen so we need Skoglund back [starting]. And this is a good chance to look at Barnes.”

The Royals are hoping Barnes, 29, will be rejuvenated with a change of scenery.

Barnes, a 14th-round pick by the Brewers in the 2011 MLB Draft, had been an effective setup man for Milwaukee over three seasons starting in 2016 (2.70 ERA). But after a 3.33 ERA in 49 relief outings in 2018, Barnes struggled mightily this season, posting a 6.86 ERA in 18 games before being demoted to Triple-A in June. On Aug. 1, he was designated for assignment and the Royals claimed him two days later.

“I’m ready for this,” Barnes said. “It’s definitely nice. I was up again [with Milwaukee] this year and had a little hip thing going on. I finally had to say something about it in the Minors. I think [being designated for assignment] was one of those things where it was a numbers situation and they weren’t really sure about the hip.

“Once I got sent down I got [the hip] looked at and got it worked on. It’s fine now. It’s been better.”

There had been some talk that Barnes, a sinker-slider-cutter pitcher, had become too reliant on offspeed pitches in the last year. He acknowledges that.

“I need to be more aggressive,” Barnes said. “I was probably throwing too much offspeed stuff because I was getting swings and misses on that. When I first came up in ’16, I used a lot of hard stuff.”

Barnes throws a hard slider, which resembles a cutter on tracking devices, to be effective.

“They can call it whatever,” Barnes said, smiling. “I’m just excited about being with [a new organization]. I’m looking forward to it.”

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB.