Astros Trade Rumors: Is “better than” good enough for Matt Barnes?

Houston Astros, Matt Barnes(Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
Houston Astros, Matt Barnes(Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images) /

The Houston Astros are sniffing around for bullpen help, but does the fact that Matt Barnes is better than our current bullpen make him good enough?

The Houston Astros need bullpen help first and foremost. They have had nine pitches make their Major League debuts this year and while some of them have slipped into the starting rotation, the bullpen is still built entirely of Ryan Pressly and a bunch of rookies.

With the trade deadline approaching, James Click is poking around for the right kind of bullpen help and the name being linked the most is Matt Barnes.

The Boston Red Sox reliever is, like the rest of the team, struggling. But if you look at his career numbers, you’ll see better numbers than what the Astros currently have in their bullpen, if only just by the skin of his teeth. So then the question becomes is he good enough just because he’s statistically better than?

The Houston Astros may need better than Matt Barnes

That Astros bullpen ERA this year is a lukewarm 4.40. Matt Barnes is currently at 4.14 for his career, never mind the 6.00 in the current year.

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Our BB/9, which remains to me the most frustrating statistic of all, is 5.43, the worst in all of the Majors. In his career, Barnes is at 4.25. Nevermind that this year he’s ranking in at 6.75 and has seen a continued rise since 2017.

Our bullpen gives up 1.03 HR/9, Barnes, in his career, gives up 1.08. Oops. Let’s not talk about home runs.

The big bump up is that Barnes is a heavy strikeout pitcher. So while the Astros bullpen only K’s 9.32 per nine innings, Barnes is at 11.64, though this year he’s striking out the least he’s ever struck out since 2017. Although it’s at 11.25 and still higher than the team he’d be joining.

Barnes is not a major upgrade. He’s not a major solution. But there are some obvious improvements—he walks slightly less, he strikes out more, he gives up fewer runs. Does that mean he is the perfect bullpen arm that this club needs? Absolutely not. If nothing changes, he would fit right in with what we’re currently getting out of our bullpen, no upgrade at all. If he improves, and Brent Strom can work his magic, then maybe we see some slight improvements.

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So what it comes down to is what we’d be giving up to get him. It may not even be worth it. In fact, it probably won’t. But that’s the only thing left to talk about.