Jaime Barria Haven’t been in that position for a while.
The Angels right-hander got off to a good start in the first doubleheader game against a strong Mariners team on August 6, 2022 in Seattle. He limited the Mariners to two runs in 4 2/3 innings. It was the only time last season that he wasn’t used outside of the bullpen.
However, this has not always been the case in Barria’s career. He was a starter prior to last season, but the Angels preferred him as a backup.
On Monday, after their decision, the Angels need a starter Chase Silseth was better suited in the bullpen, Barriía received the ball to start a game again.
“When I told him he had a big smile on his face,” Angels manager Phil Nevin said after Sunday’s game. “He’s ready to go.”
Barría wasted no time, conceding two hits and no runs while notching six in five innings against the Boston Red Sox in the The Angels won 2-1 On Monday. It was a brilliant performance for his first start of the season. His action spanned three one-two-three innings and good defense kept his pitch count down.
Getting another chance to start a game didn’t pass up Barria.
“I think it’s important because they gave me the chance,” Barría said in Spanish after the game. “It’s what I wanted, starting the game and continuing to seize the moment and do my job.”
The next time that spot in the rotation is needed will be when the Angels are in Chicago this month, considering Shohei Ohtani’s starts need to stay on schedule.
Nevin said Sunday that Barría’s flexibility as a pitcher would make him better suited for this start, rather than leaving Silseth nine days between starts. Nevin confirmed after Monday’s game that Barría will be in the starting XI next time.
Silseth remained focused on the team when he heard he was returning to the bullpen.
“If you want me there, let’s do it and get some wins,” he said.
Barría has taken on multiple roles: as a starter, centre-forward and closer. He was balanced on every occasion.
“That’s why you can put him anywhere,” Nevin said ahead of Monday’s game. “No moment is too big.”
On Barría’s first backup of the season, on April 4 in Seattle, he conceded five hits, including two home runs, and four runs in 3 2/3 innings for a 9.82 earned run average. Since then, Barría has been one of the most reliable arms in the bullpen, starting Monday with a 1.96 ERA in ten games.
“I come here to do a good job,” said Barria. “I feel like I’ve had more confidence in my pitches and attacking batters since the Milwaukee series. So I had the opportunity to start.”
Barria said his time in the bullpen helped him as a starter.
“I think it’s important to have good energy from the first pitch to the last, and that’s what the bullpen does,” said Barria. “Now that I’m a starter, I have to keep that mentality.”
At the start of Monday’s start, Barria’s arm wasn’t as extended. Most pitches he’s thrown this season was 58, in a four-inning reserve game against the Texas Rangers on May 5. He ended Monday with 64 pitches.
The Angels’ lack of pitching depth this season has proven to be a minor issue. José Suarez’s questionable performance before being placed on the 15-day injury list (8 May) with a left shoulder injury put the Angels in an even more difficult situation.
The original plan in Suarez’s absence was to use Silseth in his place. Silseth started in Triple A earlier this season before being called back up to the big league side to join the bullpen when Austin Warren moved to IL from Tommy John for surgery.
Since he was already heavily involved with games, he was the logical next choice. Silseth gave up four earned runs in 3 1/3 innings on his next start in Baltimore and suffered the loss.
Barría’s performance on Monday will give the Angels food for thought after Suarez’s return.