Joe Maddon turned to Jaime Barria as an emergency starter when the Los Angeles Angels wanted to go back to a six-man rotation. Barria was remembered for his borderline elite 2018 season, but had struggled to find the same rhythm since, even giving up seven runs over two innings in one of his two 2021 appearances.
Barria’s entry back into the rotation started almost as bad as it could, giving up back-to-back solo home runs to start a game against the Minnesota Twins. However, something clicked after those two homers, and he has yet to allow another run in his last 13.2 innings pitched. This includes a 6.2-inning shutout in a must-win game against the Oakland Athletics on Saturday.
Maddon was pleased with what he saw from Barria against the A’s, saying that he’s made a real case to stay in the rotation for the rest of the season, according to Jack Harris of The L.A. Times:
“I think he’s throwing with more conviction. I believe he believes he’s gonna throw it to a good spot and that the contact is not going to be that great,” Maddon said. “He’s not just out there trying to overpower everybody. He’s not that guy. … He has a knack, an IQ, a feel for what he’s doing, and that’s what’s going to propel him.”
Barria strengthened his case to stay in the Angels’ rotation too.
“We’re discussing that,” Maddon said. “It’s not written down yet, but it’s a possibility.”
With the trading of Andrew Heaney and an ongoing injury to Alex Cobb, the Angels are going to need some trustworthy arms starting for them as they venture a comeback in the AL Wild Card race. Barria is starting to look like one of those arms.
For now, he’s likely on a start-by-start basis, meaning that how he performs in each start would earn him another chance on the mound after that. It’s a high-pressure situation to be in as a pitcher, but it’s one that Barria is making the most of.
Reid Detmers making debut Sunday
The Angels are heading to the Minors again to bolster their big league starting rotation. On Sunday, the highly anticipated — and rather fast — debut of 2020 first-round pick Reid Detmers will be taking place.
Detmers is hoping to bring the elite strikeout stuff he had in the Minors with him, and the Angels will need it as they go for the series split against the Athletics.