Jaime Barria is yet another player that the Angels have converted from starter to bullpen back to starter. This season, Barria did not perform well in a relief role, but has actually held his own as a starter.
Barria’s biggest problem this season has been first innings. In 9.0 first innings this season, Barria holds a 9.00 ERA. In all other innings, his ERA drops to 4.02, leading to a total ERA of 4.93 on the season. Against the Astros on Sunday afternoon, he only survived 4.0 innings.
While he gave up just one run on four hits, he walked four batters — compared to six strikeouts — leading to a high pitch count of 96. Joe Maddon spoke about Barria’s performance and what went right and wrong for him, according to Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com:
“I thought he fought,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “I really liked it. Just a high pitch number. A lot of full counts, big counts. This is a team where if you want to pitch deep into a game against them, they’re not going to expand a whole lot. You have to get them out in the zone. But he had his velocity at the end, and I liked how he battled through it. I still think there’s a growth moment in there.”
Barria knows he could have been more aggressive with his pitches and thrown more strikes, especially against a team as dangerous as the Astros.
“The key was keeping my focus and making some adjustments out there,” Barria said. “Just keeping my head in there. With a team like that, you have to be perfect with every pitch. It’s constantly on your mind. You have to be ready to compete. Knowing they have a good lineup, you have to be locked in.”
Barria is one of those pitchers that remains on the bubble for next season. He hasn’t pitched quite well enough to guarantee himself a spot in next season’s rotation, but he’s certainly been good enough to warrant consideration.
A lot of his opportunities will come from how the Angels decide to approach the offseason. If they are aggressive in signing or trading for starting pitchers, it’s likely that he gets pushed out of the rotation. However, if they utilize their resources elsewhere, he could find himself as the No. 4 or 5 in 2022.
Reid Detmers trying to return this season
After missing a significant amount of time due to COVID quarantine, Detmers is working to pitch again in 2021. It’s unclear exactly how much time he’ll need to regain his form, but after 10 days in a Baltimore hotel room, the process likely won’t be immediate.