Cool as a cucumber. That’s how Gary Allenson described reliever Danny Barnes.
He entered Sunday afternoon’s game with a precarious one-run lead in the eighth. Barnes pitched like he normally does – incredibly efficient with a deceptive fastball.
The result was a clean inning, helping the Buffalo Bisons to a 6-5 win over the Syracuse Chiefs at Coca-Cola Field.
Those clean innings keep piling up for the 26-year-old right-hander in his first stint in Triple-A.
Barnes numbers are good. Ridiculously good.
In 17∏ innings he has given up just one run on five hits for a 0.51 earned run average. He has excelled against left-handed batters, who have yet to get a knock against Barnes. Lefties are 0 for 28 against him and have struck out 11 times.
“It’s all the same,” Barnes said. “I think I’m just on a good run right now. Not trying to do anything special. … You never want to try and do too much. There’s only so much you can control in your pitching so you just focus on what you can do and hopefully results are there.”
The results have been outstanding in 2016 for Barnes and his demeanor is one of the reasons for his success.
“The mindset is always the same,” Barnes said of entering with the one-run lead. “You just want to make good pitches. At the time of the game there’s obviously more adrenaline. You’re under a microscope more but you’re always just trying to make a good pitch regardless of the situation.”
It’s a mindset that has impressed Allenson since Barnes joined the club on June 22 and continued with his performance in Sunday’s win.
“Nothing bothers him,” Allenson said. “He evolves his way to a strikeout. I don’t think he’s up there trying to strike somebody out until he gets the two strikes. He gets in a rhythm. I didn’t think he had his good command when the inning first started but lo and behold 1-2-3 with the top part of their order. They just don’t pick his fastball up.”
What’s so special about his fastball? Well for Barnes it’s just consistency.
“I think it’s something that’s always been there,” Barnes said. “I try to get good extension and stay on line so it probably all contributes toward it.”
Barnes played three seasons at Princeton and was selected by the Blue Jays in the 2010 First Year Player Draft. He played a good deal of Class-A ball before a rotator cuff injury sidelined him for most of 2013 and impacted him into 2014.
He spent all of last year with Double-A New Hampshire and started the season with the Fisher Cats where he also put up ridiculously good numbers.
His combined numbers for this season are also ridiculously good. In 35 appearances (52∑ innings pitched) he has a 0.86 ERA with 60 strike outs against five walks. He’s allowed only five earned runs in 2016.
That fits right in with the Bisons bullpen, which has been the most consistent aspect of the club this season.
While Ryan Tepera made it interesting in the ninth inning on Sunday, loading the bases with two singles and a walk with one out, he pitched out of the jam to convert his 15th straight save opportunity.
“We talked about using his two-seamer more. It’s 95-96,” Allenson said. “He got away from it and when he had to use it, that’s how he got the save.”
Overall the bullpen has converted 36 of 46 save opportunities and excelled in the series against Syracuse. Bisons’ relievers allowed just one earned run in 13∏ innings against the Chiefs as the Herd won three out of four.
“There’s some characters out there,” Barnes said of the bullpen. “Everyone’s a little different. Everyone’s a little special and I mean we have a good time.”