Charlie Barnes (28), the “left-handed lion” of the Lotte Giants, who was once on the verge of being kicked out. However, he is sweeping victory despite his unstable appearance in the second half.
Barnes pitched as a starting pitcher in the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League home game against the NC Dinos at Sajik Baseball Stadium in Busan on the 2nd, recording 7 hits, 3 walks, and 6 strikeouts and 3 runs in 6 innings.
It certainly wasn’t a perfect pitch. Barnes, who gave up a hit from the first inning, made a three-way walkout inning, including two strikeouts in the second inning. In the third inning, after giving up a hit to Son Ah-seop after two outs, he committed a wild pitch and was on the verge of scoring, and Kwon Hee-dong’s timely hit to the left gave up one point.
In the top of the fourth inning, when the 꽁머니사이트 team was leading 2-1, Jason Martin and Yoon Hyung-joon made a series of hits to first and third base, and Do Tae-hoon and Park Se-hyuk hit timely hits one after another, allowing a 3-2 turnaround. After the team succeeded in reversing the game 5-3, he made a crisis with runners on first and second base with no outs in the top of the fifth inning, but he quickly caught two outs with Park Kun-woo’s fly ball to left field and Martin’s strikeout. Even Yoon Hyung-joon finished with a center fielder fly and met the winning pitcher requirements.
Barnes, who threw 92 pitches until the fifth inning, also took the mound in the sixth inning. Barnes, who gave up a series of hit balls to Do Tae-hoon and Kim Joo-won, faced another crisis of losing points. However, he closed the door of the inning by handling a fly ball to center field on the first pitch of the tricky batter Son Ah-seop.
Barnes did not pitch very satisfactory, sending out 10 runners on the day. The player himself even confessed, “It was not easy to run the game today.” Still, he was able to hold out without completely collapsing and prevent the bullpen’s load from being exhausted by the overtime game the previous day. Lotte manager Larry Sutton also said, “I had a lot of pitches before the sixth inning, but I trusted him because he wanted to go one more inning.”
Including this game, Barnes has won all three games in the second half and is pitching well with a 1.93 ERA. On the 21st of last month, his first appearance in the second half, he recorded 5 hits, 5 walks, 2 strikeouts, and no runs in 5⅔ innings against Kiwoom, followed by a quality start (more than 6 innings, less than 3 earned runs) in 7 innings against Doosan in Jamsil on the 27th.
In fact, Barnes was on the verge of being kicked out throughout the first half. Prior to the All-Star break, he had a record of 5 wins, 6 losses and a 4.57 ERA in 16 games. There was also a problem with the ability to digest innings, such as barely exceeding five innings per game while throwing 82⅔. The number of walks increased from 2.3 per nine innings last year to 3.4 in the first half, and the number of pitches per inning increased from 15.8 to 16.9. He failed to show his appearance as a foreign ace at all.
The biggest problem was the unpredictable ups and downs. Barnes had a 7.58 ERA in April. There has never been a quality start (more than six innings, less than three earned runs). In May, he rebounded with a 1.82 ERA in four games. In June, it rose again to 4.38, and the last two games of the first half showed extreme pitching, with 11 strikeouts and 1 run (against Ulsan Doosan on July 1) and 4 hits and 4 walks in 1⅓ innings (against Changwon NC on July 13). Lotte pitching coach Kim Hyun-wook (53) analyzed, “The reason why Barnes was bad in the beginning was because he had difficulty in pitching design and control.”
However, as Lotte used two foreign replacement cards for pitcher Dan Straily (35) and outfielder Jack Rex (30), Barnes was automatically confirmed to stay. Coach Kim said before the start of the second half, “It’s good when it’s good.” Then, the key is to maintain this good appearance,” he said, expressing his desire for Barnes.
The pitch itself is unstable, but Barnes is playing more than five innings in all games in the second half anyway. While Park Se-woong (28) and Na Kyun-an (24), who led the team’s starters in the first half, are sluggish in the second half, Barnes’ rebound is certainly welcome. In particular, new foreign pitcher Aaron Wilkerson (34) also played five innings in both games, relieving worries about inning-eating.
Lotte is in seventh place with a season winning rate of 0.477 (42 wins and 46 losses) as of the 2nd. It is 2.5 games away from fifth-place NC, and it still has hope for autumn baseball. It is Lotte’s situation that needs a steady Barnes to go higher.