Barria retires 14 straight in strong 'audition'

September 7th, 2021

ANAHEIM -- Much like many of the Angels' young pitchers, right-hander , who's due to be out of Minor League options in 2022, is pitching for a role next season.

The 25-year-old has had an up-and-down year, but he turned in a strong outing against the Rangers on Monday, allowing three runs on eight hits and no walks over seven innings in a 4-0 Angels loss at Angel Stadium. His seven innings tied a season high that he set on July 25 against the Twins.

"He was really good," Angels manager Joe Maddon said. "He was a bit unlucky, actually. He had every opportunity to put up zeros. But they hit a lot of flares. They really didn't hit him hard if you play back the tape. I thought he really threw the ball well, but, unfortunately, so did their guy [A.J. Alexy]."

The offense couldn't get anything going, however, as Barria fell to 2-3 with a 5.16 ERA in 45 1/3 innings this season. After two relief appearances to begin 2021, Barria has been a mainstay in the rotation since late July. In eight starts, he's posted a 4.35 ERA with 23 strikeouts in 39 1/3 innings.

“It does feel like an audition for next year,” Barria said through an interpreter. “I feel really good about myself right now. I just have to keep working hard and see how it goes.”

Barria struggled early against Texas, as he allowed the first two batters of the game to reach safely and gave up a one-out RBI single to DJ Peters. Barria then escaped a bases-loaded jam with the help of a double-play grounder hit by Nick Solak.

It was more of the same in the second for Barria, giving up consecutive singles before inducing another double-play grounder from Jose Trevino. He wouldn't escape the inning unscathed, though, as Yonny Hernandez hit a two-out RBI single to give the Rangers an early 2-0 lead.

Barria settled down from there and retired the next 14 batters he faced to set a new career high. His previous best was 10 in a row against Texas on June 1, 2018.

“I feel like my location was a big key to my success today,” Barria said. “And after the second inning, Maddon told me they were getting lucky with soft hits. It gave me a confidence boost. I think that’s what started the 14 in a row.”

Yohel Pozo singled with one out in the seventh to snap Barria's streak and after a grounder by Jason Martin, Trevino followed with an RBI double. Barria was able to get Hernandez to ground out to first to get out of the inning and escape further damage.

“As a starter, it’s always my goal to go six or seven innings,” said Barria, who hadn’t gone deeper than 4 1/3 innings since Aug. 7. “I want to go out there and help the bullpen out, and give them a little break.”

Barria was efficient and filled up the zone as 60 of his 88 pitches went for strikes. While he only struck out three, he did induce 10 swings and misses and didn't rely as heavily on his slider. Of his 88 pitches, 59 were either four-seamers or sinkers, with 19 sliders and 10 changeups. Of his 10 changeups, he got three swings and misses.

"I thought it was great,” Maddon said. “How about that changeup? I talked to [pitching coach] Matt Wise and he said he used to throw it a few years ago, but he got more slider heavy. But I loved it. He threw some really good ones. If he can incorporate that again with everything else, you're gonna see some pretty good outings out of him."