Six MLB relief pitchers with a lot to prove in 2019

Six MLB relief pitchers with a lot to prove in 2019

Chin Music Baseball

Six MLB relief pitchers with a lot to prove in 2019

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Jul 22, 2018; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Miami Marlins relief pitcher Kyle Barraclough (46) reacts during the ninth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Barraclough, Washington Nationals

The Nats didn’t waste any time boosting their bullpen in the middle of October by trading for Kyle Barraclough. He’s coming off a tough year with the Miami Marlins, though.

After breaking out in 2016 with a 2.85 ERA, 36.9% strikeout rate, 0.13 homers allowed per nine innings, and 2.1 fWAR in 72.2 innings, those numbers have steadily gone down each year. They culminated in 2018 with a 4.20 ERA, 24.5% strikeout rate, 1.29 homers allowed per nine, and -0.6 fWAR in 55.2 frames. What has unfortunately stayed consistent is Barraclough’s inability to limit walks — he’s never finished a year with his walk rate lower than 13.3% (it was 13.9% in ’18).

His year was actually off to a great start before spinning out of control. Through June 30th, the righty owned a 0.99 ERA with a 28.3% strikeout rate and 12.3% walk rate. It was also accompanied by an unsustainable .103 BABIP allowed and 91.6% strand rate.

Barraclough’s BABIP (.400) and strand rate (67.3%) regressed to the other extreme over his final 19.1 innings pitched, leading to a 10.24 ERA, 2.79 homers allowed per nine innings, 19.6% strikeout rate, and 15.9% walk rate.

Baseball can make you humble real fast.

After tossing his slider at least 40.0% of the time in 2016 and 2017, the young righty used it at a 28.8% clip this past year. The 69 wRC+ produced by opposing hitters on that pitch was the first time it settled in above single digits since 2015. His strikeout rate with this weapon has also gone on a steady nosedive (59.6% in ’16, 45.8% in ’17, and 27.1% in ’18).

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