2016 Stats: 72.2 IP, 2.85 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, .173 BAA, 14.0 K/9, 2.1 WAR
Kyle Barraclough broke onto the scene with the Marlins in 2015 when he was called up to the big leagues in August. He pitched to a 2.59 ERA in 25 appearances at the end of the season, and earned himself a spot on the 2016 major league roster.
Barraclough quickly earned the trust of Manager Don Mattingly, and ended up leading the team with 75 appearances in 2016. The young right-hander did not allow an earned run through his first 12 appearances, earning himself the role of set-up man in the Miami bullpen.
Whether the Marlins had A.J. Ramos as the closer, Fernando Rodney as the closer, or a mix of the two, Barraclough was always there to lock down the seventh or eighth inning. He was so effective as a set-up man because he was able to get both righties and lefties out at a high rate. Right-handed batters hit only .160 against Barraclough this season with an OPS+ of 37, which is a park-adjusted version of OPS, but lefties only hit .192 with an OPS+ of 62.
The 26-year-old reliever continued to have great fastball velocity and command, but what helped him the most this season was his slider. Barraclough threw almost 42 percent sliders in 2016, and opposing batters hit only .104 when he threw the pitch. He used the slider to get 88 of his 113 strikeouts, and the pitch ranged in velocity from to 79 to 88 miles per hour, allowing it to further fool hitters.
Barraclough was able to especially use the slider in key situations with runners on base. With runners in scoring position against him this season, Barraclough held opposing batters to a .148 average and a .186 slugging percentage. He struck out 48 of the 105 batters he faced in those situations, mostly using the sliders, which was important in keeping runs off the board.
If there was one blemish in Barraclough’s 2016 campaign, it was the fact that he struggled a little bit against the teams at the top of the NL East. The young hurler allowed 25 baserunners and seven earned runs in 15 2⁄3 innings against the Nationals and Mets in 2016, which is a cause for concern. If the Marlins want to be in the chase with the Nats and Mets in the division, they will need their set-up guy to succeed against the two NL East powers.
Overall, the future is very bright for Kyle Barraclough. He only has one full major league season under his belt and he already projects to be an elite big league reliever. The Marlins would be smart to keep him in his current set-up man role, but with extenuating circumstances, Barraclough has the stuff to become a solid closer as well. In 2016, the Marlins uncovered the hidden gem that is Kyle Barraclough, and his 2017 could help Miami stay in contention.