The starting rotation became a seldom-acknowledged strength for the Los Angeles Angels this past season, and with the addition of Tyler Anderson into the fold, the backend of the starting staff is a bit congested with young arms.
Jaime Barría is a potential piece to that puzzle heading into 2023 after posting a 2.61 ERA in 79.1 innings pitched from a reliever-heavy role. Shohei Ohtani, Anderson and Patrick Sandoval will carry the bulk, with José Suarez and Reid Detmers to round it out.
However, manager Phil Nevin and general manager Perry Minasian have discussed the implementation of a six-man rotation, putting other potential breakout performers in a position to snag that six and final spot.
But according to Sam Blum of The Athletic, Barría has his sights on grabbing a long-term spot in a crowded rotation:
“I know that the sixth spot is open,” Barria said. “And I know if I’m able to get a chance at it, and do the work, I feel like I can keep that spot.”
Nevin has been non-committal thus far with how the rotation will shake out, mainly because injuries do happen and there’s no rush to solidify anything. But the solution could be that if Barría was so good out of the bullpen, there’s no need to push him into a new role:
“He’s going to be built up with the expectation that — potentially that (sixth) spot, swing guy,” Nevin said. “But also a guy that came come in in the second, third inning, if needed, like he did last year.”
The only real blemish to Barría is his 4.39 FIP last season and relatively low strikeout rate. Barría’s main area of emphasis should be refining his put-away pitches to put him in the conversation with the other main starting pitcher candidates.
As he heads off to the World Baseball Classic, he is also expecting to start games for the Panamanian team:
“Me being a starter there, being able to show what I can do, maybe the team can see that,” Barria said. “And it will help me once I come back from the WBC.”
The Angels are fortunate to be in the position they’re in and Nevin’s final version of the rotation should be fluid as the season moves along.
Including Jaime Barría, the Angels have options
Starters logged a collective ERA of 3.67 with a 52-57 record in 843.1 innings pitched. Behind Shohei Ohtani and Patrick Sandoval, the Angels struggled to find consistency out of their rotation because of inexperience or lackluster performance from older arms.
But heading into 2023, the rotation looks like a strength. Ohtani is one of the best pitchers in baseball, Detmers showed promise despite mixed results, Sandoval posted a 2.91 ERA in 27 starts and should benefit from a full offseason, Anderson was one of baseball’s most underrated arms and Jose Suarez had a late season breakout.
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