Jaime Barria has been an important part of this Los Angeles Angels season. Through mid-May, the 26-year-old righty had operated exclusively out of the bullpen, and during that time he was one of baseball's most effective relievers, posting a 1.96 ERA. Since then, though, his ERA has ballooned to 3.31, due mostly to back-to-back dud starts, including an ineffective outing against the Padres last night.
Barria has plenty of starting experience in his 5+ year Angels career, but he seemed to have really warmed to his long relief role this year. Next to closer (and All-Star snub) Carlos Estevez, he's perhaps the second biggest reason the Angels bullpen is currently ranked seventh in the majors in ERA, and to be fair, he did allow only one run in his first three starts of the year.
Barria's last two starts, though, show why the Angels need to be in the market for a starting pitcher as the trade deadline approaches. After surrendering five runs in just three innings against the lowly White Sox, he was touched up again by the Padres, and he's yet to last more than five innings in any start this year.
LA Angels pitcher Jaime Barria is better off in the bullpen
Barria can't be completely blamed for the poor outing against San Diego, as he was let down by an errant throw from shortstop David Fletcher in the first inning after inducing a tailor-made double play ball from Juan Soto. Instead of having two outs with nobody on, Barria had to navigate deeper into the Padres lineup, and he gave up a three-run blast to Xander Bogaerts three batters later.
Ironically, a potential candidate to replace Barria in the starting rotation was on the mound opposite him last night. Padres lefty Blake Snell has seen his name bandied about in trade talks, and with the Padres ranking as one of baseball's biggest disappointments (non-Mets division) this year, he could be moved if the price is right.
With Shohei Ohtani's free agency looming at the end of this season, the Angels have to be all-in on improving the team at the deadline. Acquiring Snell, or any similarly effective starter, would allow Barria to slide back into the bullpen role that he filled so ably through the first month and a half of the season.
With the entire AL East above .500, the Mariners nipping at their heels, and the Rangers and Astros pacing the division, meaningful October baseball in Angel Stadium is a long way off. Bringing on a quality starter and moving Barria back to the bullpen could be the difference between sneaking in and watching from the couch.