Overall in 2018, in his fourth major league season, Kyle Barraclough, 28, put up a 4.20 ERA, a 4.98 FIP, 34 walks (5.50 BB/9), 60 Ks (9.70 K/9), and a .194/.325/.350 line against in 55 2⁄3 innings pitched, with a .172/.308/.299 line vs lefties and a .215/.341/.396 line against right-handed hitters on the year.
He struggled in the second half, however, after a strong start to the season, posting a 13.50 ERA, a 9.24 FIP, 11 walks (7.43 BB/9), 13 Ks (8.78 K/9), and a .367/.486/.667 line against in 13 1⁄3 IP after a dominant pre-All Star Break run which saw him post 1.28 ERA, a 3.63 FIP, 23 walks (4.89 BB/9), 47 Ks (9.99 K/9), and a .126/.254/.217 line against in 42 1⁄3 IP.
“I think it was just the perfect storm of — I had some obvious — there are some peripherals and things that you can look at that people would consider, ‘Oh, he was getting a little lucky,’ which in baseball obviously happens all the time,” Barraclough said this week when asked what was behind his second half issues, and he did have a .160 BABIP-against in the first half, and a .405 BABIP-against after the Break.
“I think that all just kind of flipped on its head, and then I kind of [combined] that with not pitching well and then it all kept going and going and going, and then had the brief injury [lower back stiffness], and coming off of that, feel like I finished in a good place, and then took that into the offseason and have done well.”
In October 2018, the right-hander was traded to the Washington Nationals, who sent the Miami Marlins international slot value in return.
“Definitely caught me off guard,” Barraclough said of the deal, “... but then I kind of had a couple weeks in Europe to kind of forget [that] it even happened, and then it was kind of readjusting when I got back into the States. Readjusting to the trade and trying to figure out... and then meet all the new people and get in touch with all the new people.
“Me and Davey [Martinez] ended up playing phone tag all the way pretty much to January, so, and finally got to talk to him, but it’s good to be here.”
It’s also good, said the four-year veteran, who lost in arbitration this winter before arriving in West Palm Beach, FL for his first Spring Training with the Nats, to be a part of a club that is determined to win after missing out on the playoffs last season.
“They’re here to win,” Barraclough told reporters.
“I mean, I think as a player that’s all you really want. Obviously looking in the last three years from over the other side, they’re always doing whatever they can to win, whether it be trades or free agents or making moves and roster moves, and obviously they have good leadership and they’ll be fun to be with.”
Though nothing is set in stone, and the Nationals haven’t assigned roles in the bullpen at this point, (outside of the obvious — Sean Doolittle is going to close out games), Barraclough said he expects his role in D.C. will be similar to what he did in Miami.
“I think what I’ve been doing the last three years, set up, and obviously Sean [Doolittle] has been doing great the last — his whole career, pretty much. It will be different for me to kind of see that. Last year there [were] a lot of role changes in the bullpen and a lot of different things going on over there, and the same thing with the year before with trades and guys leaving and [they] really haven’t had a set closer in Miami since [A.J.] Ramos, so it’s nice to have that guy that’s back there just anchoring the bullpen and then get the ball to him and know the game is pretty much over.”
Doolittle is equally excited about the bullpen additions the Nationals made this winter, and eager to get a look at Barraclough and former St. Louis Cardinals’ closer Trevor Rosenthal.
“I’m excited to see Barraclough and Rosenthal throw because they have such kind of overpowering stuff,” Doolittle said this week.
“They put up big strikeout numbers, so I’m really excited to share a bullpen with them and see if I can pick anything up and learn anything and get to work.”