LA Angels 2021 spring training guide: who gets the final rotation spots?

Alex Cobb (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
Alex Cobb (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) /
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Los Angeles Angels
Jaime Barria, Los Angeles Angels (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /

Early in the offseason, I included Jaime Barria in my 2021 breakout candidates article. I believe his 2018 rookie season in which he put up a 3.41 ERA, 1.268 WHIP, 4.58 FIP, and 6.8 K/9 is more indicative of the type of player he is than his ugly 2019 sophomore campaign in which he bounced up and down from triple-A while recording a 6.42 ERA, 1.440 WHIP, 6.23 FIP, and 8.2 K/9.

The reason I believe this is because of how well he pitched during the 2020 season. Over five starts and two relief appearances, he put up a 3.62 ERA, 1.113 WHIP, 3.65 FIP, and 7.5 K/9. The Statcast numbers are even more impressive. He ranked in the 91st percentile in xwOBA and xERA, 76th percentile in xBA, 80th percentile in xSLG, 94th percentile in barrel rate and 74th percentile in walk rate.

When will Jaime Barria get his shot to become a permanent starter for the Angels?

When I wrote about Barria’s breakout chances, it was before the Angels had made any moves. Barria was still listed as a starter on the depth chart. I said it was likely that he would be pushed to the bullpen as the Angels were in the hunt for one or two top arms. They did acquire two rotation arms; however, the quality is not exactly what Halos fans expected. The chances of Barria forcing his way into the rotation are now higher than I initially thought they’d be.

Despite Barria proving that he is a solid and capable rotation piece, the Angels remain unconfident in guaranteeing him a spot in the rotation. However, they’ve created a situation in which, with a strong spring showing, Barria could force his way into regular starts.