With Robbie Grossman being optioned to Oklahoma City on Monday, it opens the door for Astros outfielder Brandon Barnes to show he can play on a consistent basis in the major leagues, and if he can hit right-handed pitching.
The right-handed hitting Barnes was in the starting lineup at center field on Tuesday, batting leadoff against Rockies left-hander Jorge De La Rosa.
Actually it’ll be pretty hard for Barnes to top what he accomplished on Monday in the Astros’ 3-2, 12-inning walk-off win over Colorado. It was Barnes who won the game with the game-winning ground-rule double.
The question is whether Barnes is an everyday player. Barnes, who has started 19 games and appeared in 34 games counting Tuesday, is hitting .382 (13-for-34) against lefties this season and .462 (6-for-13) against them with runners in scoring positions.
“Between now and the time (center fielder) Justin Maxwell comes back (from the disabled list) we’re going to find out whether or not he’s able to do that,” said Astros manager Bo Porter. “Because I’m going to run him out there against righties and lefties and it gives him an opportunity to answer those questions.”
In a limited role, Barnes, 27, has contributed greatly to the Astros. He’s batting .323 but is noted for his defensive play. He made a catch at the center-field wall for the final out in Houston’s 7-5 win at Detroit in the Astros’ last road trip. In that same road trip, Barnes had an outfield assists at Pittsburgh.
“He’s a good player,” said Porter. “Kind of like (Astros third baseman) Matt Dominguez coming into this season. From an organizational standpoint, we knew what we had defensively. He’s one of the best defensive center fielders out there.
“He can go get them, he can throw. He understands the hitters, he knows how to position himself. The only question is can he handle right on right pitching on a consistent basis. He’s never been given that opportunity.
“Now the opportunity has presented itself. I believe he is ready for the job. I believe he’s going to take full advantage of it.”