The Los Angeles Angels lost their fourth consecutive game on Monday night at the hands of the Houston Astros. And although the loss was given to starter Jaime Barria, he can hardly be blamed for the team dropping six games below .500.
Barria’s game followed a formula that he has played with all season long. He struggled in the first inning, allowing two earned runs. Then he settled down, not giving up another run before being taken out in the sixth inning. In total, he allowed two runs on 10 hits while striking out five.
Joe Maddon explained the mindset of a pitcher who routinely struggles in the first inning, saying it’s nothing he hasn’t seen before, according to Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com:
“He kicks it in, but he needs to come out more fire-blazing and not put himself in that position,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “He kind of gets smacked in the jaw and then everything gets sharper. I’ve seen other starters do that before. You try to take them earlier [pregame] and try all sorts of crazy things. But I think it’s just a focus thing. You have to be mentally focused and ready to make good pitches from the very first one.”
Maddon also revealed that Barria has played well enough to put himself in the conversation for the 2022 season, but is unsure if that will be as a starter or out of the bullpen.
“He’s putting himself into the mix for conversation this winter,” Maddon said. “I can’t say for sure exactly how it’s going to go. He’ll be out of options, so that’s a consideration. I think he continues to get better and is an open book and is adding on to what he’s doing in a good way. He’s an interesting cat. He’s one of those guys who can legitimately help you in the bullpen or as a starter. So those are the kind of things you talk about in a conversation about him.”
Barria has a career 7.65 ERA as a reliever, lending himself more as a starter. However, he’s only made 10 appearances out of the pen so the jury is still out on his effectiveness in that role.
As stated in Maddon’s quote, Barria is out of Minor League options, which will heavily factor into the discussion surrounding him. If the Angels plan to make moves in free agency to acquire starters, it’s hard to see Barria making the rotation.
And since they cannot option him, it becomes a situation where he almost has to find a way to be effective in the bullpen.
Alex Cobb looking to impact winning in final weeks of season>/h2>
Alex Cobb finally made his return to the rotation, but not before missing two months of action. The Angels are no longer in playoff contention like they were when he got injured, but he still has a lot to fight for.
He’s hoping to get the team back to .500 to set them up for confidence and success in 2022, even if he leaves the team in free agency.