Jaime Barria’s 2021 season came to a slightly early end when he was diagnosed with a right shoulder impingement. After starting on Saturday against the Seattle Mariners and exiting after just two innings, his season was quickly ended by being placed on the 10-day IL.
Now, it’s the job of Joe Maddon, Perry Minasian, and the entire Los Angeles Angels organization to figure out where to turn next. Barria is officially out of Minor League options, meaning he must start on an MLB active roster next season.
If he had been incredible — or struggled — this season, it would have made the decision easy. Instead, he put together a somewhat mixed bag of a year. Barria held a 4.61 ERA this season. As a starter, it was 3.91. Take away his notoriously horrible first innings, and it was just 2.50.
He was certainly better than he’s been in year’s past, and that’s something Maddon highlighted when discussing Barria following his injury, according to Jeff Fletcher of The O.C. Register:
“I think he made a really nice rebound,” Maddon said. “He showed some really good things. Other things kind of mediocre but overall I think that the the good outweighs the bad.”
“I think he made strides in understanding himself a little bit better, and with that variety of pitches now he can get out both righties and lefties with more certainty or better feel about it,” Maddon said. “I thought he made a lot of progress.”
As of right now, there are three potential options for Barria entering the 2022 season, provided his injury clears up by then.
The first is to bring him back as a starter. If this is the case, it means the Angels likely didn’t follow through on their talk to bring in frontline starters. The second — and most likely option — is to bring him back as a long reliever.
Finally, if the Angels do make significant changes to their pitching staff, they can trade him. Barria is just 25 and has four more years of team control. Even if he’s been inconsistent in the Majors, plenty of teams would love a chance to develop a pitcher like him.
Clearly, Barria’s 2022 status with the Angels is very much up in the air. How the Halos navigate the offseason will be very telling as to how much confidence they have in their young pitching staff.
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