KC Royals Projections: A strong year for Scott Barlow

A KC Royals pitcher has a chance to solidify his workhorse bullpen role.

Welcome back to Kings of Kauffman’s KC Royals Projections series for 2021. Between now and Opening Day, our writers are analyzing how various Royals performed last season and predicting how they might fare this year. Up today is pitcher Scott Barlow.

While he may have been relatively unknown just a few years ago, KC Royals fans know who the name Scott Barlow now.

Barlow came to the Royals through free agency in December 2017. Before that, he had been a member of the Dodgers organization, climbing his way to Double A and Triple A, only to see his time in LA cut short.

The Royals saw something in the pitcher, though, and he quickly made his way to Kansas City.

Barlow spent a good deal of his 2018 season in the minors but got 15 innings of major league time. He put on a decent show and it was good enough for him to get extended time in 2019.

While April of 2019 was good for the pitcher, he struggled through May and June with monthly ERA’s of 5.28 and 12.46 respectively. The Royals sent him back down to the minors to get some work, but it wasn’t long before he made another big league appearance on July 15th.

The short time in the minors was all Barlow needed to reset, and his monthly ERA didn’t go above 2.84 for the rest of the season. Barlow ended the season with 70.1 innings over 61 games, an ERA of 4.22 and FIP of 3.41.

2020 saw a similar story for Barlow. He became a workhorse in the bullpen, throwing 30.0 innings and appearing in a major league-leading 32 games. He ended with a 4.20 ERA and 3.42 FIP. He would have likely faired better, but just a couple of bad outings in September caused his ERA to shoot up.

Still, Barlow remains one of the staples of the bullpen, and this likely won’t change for 2021.

Baseball Reference and FanGraphs projections for Barlow’s 2021 season

If looking at the Baseball Reference and FanGraphs projection for Barlow, things look fairly consistent with his past seasons. Baseball Reference has him at a win/loss of 4-4 with an ERA of 4.38 over 72.0 innings pitched. His SO/9 stays high at 10.4, though his BB/9 is up a bit to 3.8 (from 2.7).

FanGraphs is similar with a win/loss of 3-3 and an ERA of 4.09 over 63 innings. They also have his SO/9 high at 10.59 but see a bigger jump in his BB/9 to 4.20.

What will the 2021 season bring for Scott Barlow?

Barlow has shown that he is consistent if anything. Though he has seen a few moments of struggle through his first few major league seasons, he has also found a way to prove that he should remain in the Royals bullpen.

2021 brings a chance for Barlow to solidify his role even more. The battle for a pitching spot on the Kansas City roster is heating up as the young arms are starting to make more progress. Barlow, though, should be seen as one of the future leaders of the pen.

He has shown that he can put in the innings and be the workhorse the Royals need. Now, after a 2020 season that saw just a couple of bad outings, Barlow has the chance to put those appearances behind him and find a full season of success.

Consistency is key when it comes to pitching for the Royals. Just taking a look at his stats shows that Barlow fits that role. If Barlow stays on track, it shouldn’t be out of the question for a 70 plus innings season, and a sub 4.00 ERA.

Scott Barlow needs a full season with now large blow-ups. 2021 could bring exactly what he needs.