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Royals claim pitcher Joe Barlow off waivers from the Rangers

Another Barlow?

Cleveland Guardians v Texas Rangers Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

The Royals have claimed right-handed reliever Joe Barlow off waivers from the Rangers and assigned him to Triple-A Omaha. The 27-year-old had appeared in 13 games with the Rangers this year with a 4.66 ERA in 9 2/3 innings.

Barlow was originally an 11th round pick in the 2016 draft out of Salt Lake Community College. He put up good numbers in the minors but went unprotected and undrafted in the Rule 5 draft in 2019 and 2020. He made his MLB debut in 2021 with the Rangers, and put up an impressive 1.55 ERA in 29 innings with 11 saves. He collected 13 more saves in 2022, but his numbers regressed a bit with a 3.86 ERA and a 4.83 FIP and a falling strikeout rate. Overall he has a 3.05 ERA in 73 23 innings in the big leagues with 7.5 strikeouts and 3.3 walks-per-nine innings.

Barlow relies heavily on a slider, throwing it over half the time. It was near unhittable his rookie year, but opponents batted .300 against it this year. His fastball sits at 93-94 mph and he had some success with it last year. He will occasionally mix in a curve and he has thrown a sinker in the past, although Baseball Savant does not show him throwing one this year. Since 2021, Barlow has the second-lowest BABIP in baseball among pitchers with at least 50 innings pitched at .215. That explains why his 3.05 ERA comes with a 4.35 career FIP, likely the reason the Rangers cut ties with him.

Still, he’s a pitcher that has had some Major League success and is still youngish enough that some tweaks could help him really take off. The Royals have been stocking up on former Rangers pitching prospects - they have acquired Cole Ragans and Taylor Hearn in the last month - so perhaps Dayton Moore, who now works for Texas as an advisor - is giving J.J. Picollo the heads up on some players.