For years now the LA Angels have been searching for an ace. While Shohei Ohtani qualifies, he’ll be missing 2019 due to Tommy John surgery. However, another 2018 rookie could be what the Halos are looking for.
The LA Angels have a 22-year old pitcher who just finished up his rookie year with a 3.41 ERA. Jaime Barria started 26 games for the Halos, which was second most on the team. He had the lowest ERA for any starter not named Shohei Ohtani, and finished the season with double-digit wins.
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So why isn’t anyone talking about him?
Sure, Andrew Heaney won the Nick Adenhart Award, given to the team’s best pitcher every season, but Barria showed serious grit in his debut season. He did not have the best strikeout numbers, walk rate, and even gave up a decent amount of hits.
However, he still was able to get the job done.
With so much uncertainty in the Angels’ rotation, Barria should be given a spot to lose going into 2019. A deeper dive into his splits show just how Barria managed to be so effective in 2018. First off, his home/away splits were distinct. Barria owned a 4.28 ERA in 14 games at Angels Stadium, but in 12 games on the road he held opponents to a 2.47 ERA.
Given the high amount of hits and walks allowed, Barria had to be dominant in clutch situations, which he undoubtedly was. With two outs and runners in scoring position, Barria rose his strikeout-to-walk ratio from 2.09 to 4.50. In high leverage situations, Barria held batters to a .093 batting average and an OPS of .285. That’s elite stuff from the young gun out of Panama.
It was not always pretty in Barria’s rookie year. Does he have the velocity or command of his pitches that Ohtani does? No. However, Barria is a grinder. When considering it was his rookie year, he deserves an A+ for being able to dominate like he did.
Over the offseason, Barria will be able to work out the rough parts of his game. If he can learn to always pitch like he does in clutch moments, than Barria has a bright, bright future for the LA Angels.