In 40 ⅔ innings pitched in the regular season, Washington Nationals' right-hander Aaron Barrett posted a 2.66 ERA, a 2.59 FIP, 20 walks (4.43 BB/9) and 49 Ks (10.84 K/9). He also threw six wild pitches in his rookie campaign, but it was the wild pitch he threw in the seventh inning of Game 4 of the NLDS in AT&T Park that everyone remembers.
Barrett hasn't forgotten, but he stressed last weekend that he hasn't let it define his first major league campaign for him either.
When he was working out of the Nationals' bullpen, the seventh and eighth innings were Barrett's territory, so when the Nats and San Francisco Giants found themselves tied at 2-2 in what ended up being the decisive game of the division series, Matt Williams turned to the rookie right-hander again after Matt Thornton gave up back-to-back, one-out singles by Joe Panik and Buster Posey that put runners on first and second with Hunter Pence due up.
"That's how we set this up," Williams told reporters after the game. "We had two lefties at the top of the inning, and if we got to the righties, we were going to go with Barrett. That's what he's done for us all year long. We are certainly not going to use our closer in the seventh inning. So that's why we went with it."
Barrett walked Pence to load the bases, then, on a 2-1 pitch to Pablo Sandoval, threw the wild pitch which let the eventual winning run score.
"Aaron's been doing that job for us all year long," Williams said after the game. "He's a strikeout guy. He's got the ability to strike that guy out. Unfortunately it was a wild pitch.
"So, you know, that happens. But he's been our guy that we've gone to in the middle of orders with every team that we've played all year long to get a big strikeout or get a big out."
After an eventful intentional walk/out at the plate, Barrett's rookie campaign ended.
"Obviously it didn't end the way we wanted," the right-hander told reporters last weekend. "Me being in that position, I've been in that position all year long, coming in, runners on, game on the line."
"And I was ready for the moment," the 26-year-old reliever said. "That's why I was on the playoff roster, for that reason right there. I was ready to go. And it just didn't go the way that I wanted. I own up for that. I take responsibility for it and all I can do is take that experience and try to take it as motivation for this offseason and use it to fuel the fire for this season and you better believe I'll be ready for the opportunity again."
"Obviously it was a great experience," Barrett said of his first big league season.
"Obviously the season didn't end the way we wanted [it] to, especially on my behalf too, it's not what I wanted, it's not like I was trying for that, but I think the experience that I gained over that outing, and even the playoffs in general, I think it's not only going to make me stronger mentally, physically, everything, but I just think it's an opportunity for myself to grow and the team to grow too. I think it's going to be a hungry club this year. I think we're going to come back hungry as ever."
Barrett also said he was able to put the year in perspective, and not let the way it ended affect how he thought about his big breakthrough.
"Obviously it was one outing and the wild pitch caused the go-ahead run," Barrett acknowleged. "I get that. Obviously my name gets put in front of the loss, and I'm okay with that, but overall, as a team I don't think we played the way that we all wanted to play, but at the same time you've just got to move on and use that experience to continue moving forward and that's what I'm going to do."
A year that started with him being added to the 40-Man Roster, a strong Spring Training run and a surprising addition to the Opening Day roster didn't end the way he wanted it to, but the season as a whole?
"I got put on the roster, which was awesome," Barrett said. "And then going to Spring, I was told I was only going to throw a few innings and they were going to give me a look. Which, I was okay with that and then next thing I know, I've pitched ten, eleven innings, I haven't given up a run yet, I'm like, 'This is real.' And I get put on the roster and next thing you know I'm in the playoffs."
"One bad outing, obviously on the biggest stage, wasn't going to take my moment from having just a great rookie season. From the beginning all the way to the end and I think it was overall a very fun year."
He's not trying to forget that seventh inning in San Francisco though.
"I had a really good routine going, all year long," he said. "My preparation was there, it's not like I wasn't prepared. I think, honestly, you learn the most from experience. Obviously that was my first postseason, runners on first and second, one out in a playoff game, in a hostile environment in San Francisco, yeah, I've never done that before, but it's not an excuse. So, I owned up to that and I cannot wait for the opportunity when I get in that position again next year, because I know that we're going to be in that situation again and I hope I'm the guy to get called again and I'll prove everybody wrong and get the guy out."
"You can't just brush it under the rug," Barrett said of his final outing of the year.
"It's a huge moment and you have to live for that type of moment and I do. And I've worked very hard to get to that situation and get to this point in my career to be ready for that moment and not saying I wasn't ready, because I was, it just didn't go my way. I've had other opportunities in certain games where it didn't go my way, but that was just on the biggest stage.
"I'll be ready. I'll be ready next time. That's for sure."