Following a relatively adequate 2017 campaign in a Marlins uniform, reliever Kyle Barraclough has since ascended into a premier relief pitcher. He should be an obvious 2018 All-Star selection for the players and league officials responsible for assembling the National League pitching staff.
In 35 appearances (34.1 IP), Barraclough has registered an unbelievable 1.05 ERA, .082 AVG and 0.73 WHIP, as well as 35 SO, 7 HLD and 7 SV. The right-handed reliever has improved tremendously since the prior season, when he was already a reputable setup man.
In addition, his electric arm hasn’t allowed a hit over his last 11 2⁄3 innings pitched. Opponents rarely even come close. That’s the longest hitless streak by a Marlins reliever since 2004 (Armando Benitez). His active scoreless streak is second-longest in the majors behind Arizona’s Yoshihisa Hirano.
Even outside of the streak, Bear Claw was making it look easy. He has allowed only nine total hits in 2018. Balls in play have been generally weak contact, contributing to his .095 BABIP. Utilizing the changeup more than ever (12.3 percent of his pitches), he’s focused on keeping batters off balance and racking up outs, rather than obsessing over strikeouts.
The 28-year-old native of Santa Clara rose to prominence when Don Mattingly—deservedly—promoted him to full-time closer at the end of May. It makes managing a game simpler than ever for Mattingly, who now has an unhittable option ready for the ninth inning. There’s no way around Barraclough’s dominance, as the league has combined for a .164 slugging percentage against him.
Kyle Barraclough and his video game-like numbers need to be in Washington, D.C. next month. While Milwaukee Brewers relief ace Josh Hader is widely regarded as a shoo-in for the All-Star roster, Barraclough actually owns a lower ERA, lower AVG, an identical WHIP, four fewer hits allowed and the same number of saves. There’s plenty of room for both of them.
Alongside the obvious (J.T. Realmuto) and the underrated (Brian Anderson), the Marlins deserve to have several representatives this year.