KC Royals: 2 truths and 1 lie about Scott Barlow

Apr 7, 2023; San Francisco, California, USA; Kansas City Royals pitcher Scott Barlow (58) delivers a
Apr 7, 2023; San Francisco, California, USA; Kansas City Royals pitcher Scott Barlow (58) delivers a / D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports
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Claim #2: Scott Barlow's best pitch is getting demolished.

Casual Royals fans have long pointed to Barlow's four-seam fastball as the measure of his success. But, according to Baseball Savant, his fastball has not even been an average pitch since 2021. Across his whole career, the fastball has not been Barlow's best pitch. Rather, it has been his slider. Barlow's slider has been his go-to pitch, allowing him to strike out batters with ease. He has been able to consistently locate the slider and use it to generate swings and misses.

That has not been the case in 2023.

Barlow has thrown his slider 39% of the time this season, to mixed results. Opposing batters have a .300 batting average on the pitch with a .800 slugging percentage. Barlow still has a 23.5% whiff percentage on the pitch, the best among his teammates this season. But leaving a slider hanging over the plate in extra innings is not the way to do it. If the season ended today, it would be the worst season for Barlow's trusty slider in his entire career. Need proof? Texas' Jonah Heim gave you the proof.

Verdict: Truth

Claim #3: Barlow will not be in Kansas City after the trade deadline.

The Royals moving on from Barlow has been a hotly debated topic for the past two seasons. After another arbitration year with no extension in sight and the Royals floundering in the win column, trading away Barlow for prospects seems like the right move. After the team missed on prime trade hauls for infielder Whit Merrifield and outfielder Michael A. Taylor, fans would think the Royals would learn from their mistakes. But Barlow's prime trading window may already be past, and the Royals are to blame for that.

The Royals not trading away Barlow in 2022 is a forgivable move, as long as he remains among the game's best. But the MLB has a “what have you done for me lately?” approach when it comes to relievers. Former seasons of struggles can easily be forgotten if a reliever is hot, and contenders need that bullpen arm ahead of October. 

Any team that looks at Barlow as a trade target will not prioritize his previous accomplishments over his current performance. If Barlow rebounds this season and even looks like his 2021 self, contenders will be paying pennies on the dollar for what Barlow was worth in 2022. Kansas City cannot afford to not maximize those few players they have worth trading this season. A lot of this relies on how well Barlow rebounds in 2023. But, if he looks very mediocre through the summer, Kansas City will justify keeping him on the roster. A rough start he couldn't recover from, new pitching coaches, and a fluke year, all would be excuses the Royals tel themselves to keep Barlow. J.J. Picollo is not Dayton Moore, but I think Picollo would hold on to Barlow through the 2023 season

Verdict: Lie