“I was so angry” at the repeated ‘ups and downs’… A left-field awakening and a return to ‘ace’ mode

“I was upset because I had a lot of ups and downs”

Charlie Barnes of the Lotte Giants started the 11th game of the season against the Doosan Bears of the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul on Sunday and pitched seven innings, throwing 94 pitches, allowing one run (one earned) on five hits with one walk and seven strikeouts.

Barnes was a “bust” last year. In April alone, Barnes got off to a great start, going 5-0 with a 0.65 ERA in six starts and getting into a “house fight” with Dong-Hee Han for the monthly MVP title. As the season progressed, he struggled with the after-effects of pitching on four days’ rest, but still finished with a 12-12 record and a 3.62 ERA in 31 appearances.

This year, however, Barnes got off to a very bad start. After struggling in exhibition games, Barnes failed to record a single quality start (6 innings or less) in April. Barnes seemed to find his groove in May, going 2-1 with a 1.82 ERA in four starts, including his first quality start, but then came the so-called “fondant fondant” of June.

On his best days, he pitched like the “dominant” pitcher he was at the start of the 2022 season, but on his worst days, he repeatedly failed to last more than five innings. The struggles of Dan Straily and then Barnes deepened Lotte’s problems with foreign pitchers, and the team decided to end the partnership with Straily. Although Barnes and Straylor’s performances were not significantly different, Lotte decided that Barnes had more advantages.

The decision to part ways with Straylor has paid off so far. Barnes picked up his sixth win of the season in his first start of the second half, tossing five innings of five-hit ball against the Kiwoom Heroes despite some shaky pitching, and he followed that up with a quality start+ (three earned runs or fewer in seven innings) against Dusan on July 27, which gave him his second straight win.

Last year, Barnes was very weak against Dusan, going 1-1 with a 7.94 ERA in two starts. This year, however, he was much stronger, going 1-1 with a 0.66 ERA in two games prior to Game 27, and on this day, using a fastball that topped out at 148 mph (34 pitches) and a mix of sliders (29 pitches), changeups (22 pitches), and two-seamers (9 pitches), he shut down the Doosan lineup again, improving to 2-1 with a 0.87 ERA.

The first half of the game was a blast, but the second half was a little less so. “Today was a good day,” he said. I think it was a good day, except for the back-to-back doubles in the second inning,” he said after the game, adding, “We used the All-Star break to look at what we did well in the first half and what we didn’t do well.”

While there are some things he can’t disclose, there are some subtle changes that are paying off. “There’s not a lot of changes,” Barnes said. “I think it was more about attacking the strike zone and getting ahead in the count with hitters,” Barnes said. “I can’t really put my finger on it, but I was having some issues with my mechanics and timing and mental stuff.

“I didn’t really think about it,” Barnes said, noting that he didn’t want to get upset with himself over the ups and downs. But he did get angry at himself for the ups and downs. “I’ve had my ups and downs, and I’ve been very upset,” Barnes said, “but it’s nice to get that out of my system a little bit with my two-game winning streak 꽁머니지급.

While he can’t pitch well every time, Barnes has been on a roll overall, going 3-2 with a 3.33 ERA in five starts, despite one of his worst outings in July when he allowed six runs (six earned) in 1 1/3 innings. “We know how tight the standings are, and it’s important to give our best every game,” he said. “We’re off to a good start in the second half, and we want to keep it going.”

None of the players on the first team roster are unimportant. But with Lotte aiming to reach the postseason and beyond, the expectations are clearly high for Barnes. On his best days, he’s still impregnable. The most important thing for the No. 1 ace is consistency.

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