The Los Angeles Angels are searching for some overall consistency from their team as a whole, but Jaime Barria has been a valuable piece in their bullpen this year.
Coming into the year, Barria’s role with the Angels was a bit unclear with former manager Joe Maddon having what was thought to be a full five-man rotation. That meant that Barria would be relegated to the bullpen after starting 11 games for L.A. last season, and 55 in his five seasons with the team.
The 25-year-old has shined in the long-man spot he has taken over for the Angels with a 2.81 ERA over 32 innings.
The right-hander hasn’t been utilized as much as some of their setup relievers, but he said he doesn’t care if or how he is utilized, via Sam Blum of The Athletic:
“I’m mentally strong,” Barria said through an interpreter when asked if the longer layoffs are tough, noting he communicates often with the pitching coaches and throws more bullpens.
Barria has limited traffic on the bases to the tune of a 0.94 WHIP and has stranded nearly 84.7% of the runners who reach base, which is an important trait for any reliever. While he has traditionally been a starter, Barria is happy doing whatever he can to help the club:
Barria said he has no complaints with his role and is happy to do what the team needs of him. He did compete for a starter job and said he thinks he can be a one-inning leverage reliever given that he throws three pitches and throws strikes.
“It depends on what the manager wants, but I’ll be ready for everything,” Barria said.
Barria has surrendered just a .198 batting average to opposing hitters and looks like a new pitcher after posting a 4.61 ERA last season:
“It’s a compliment to Jaime, to his work ethic, and the amount of time he spends staying ready to pitch,” Angels bullpen coach Dom Chiti said. “It’s a compliment to him. It’s not easy.”
The Angels could end up relying on him down the stretch with their increased bullpen usage.
Phil Nevin wants more communication with relievers
The Angels are still in the aftermath of the worst stretch in team history, and the bullpen’s inability to perform was a glaring issue. However, interim manager Phil Nevin believes communication with his relievers will be a step in the right direction.
Dating back to May 25, the start of their historic losing streak, the Angels bullpen posted an ERA of 5.25 and a FIP of 4.75, while allowing an opposing batting average of .270, all of which rank in the bottom 10 in Major League Baseball.
Their usage is a huge factor, and with 73.2 innings pitched (No. 4 in MLB) since May 25, Nevin expressed his desire to avoid using multiple relievers in an inning as much as possible and have stronger communication with them.
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