Nats get Barraclough in deal with Marlins

October 10th, 2018

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals began revamping their bullpen on Wednesday, one of the vital keys for trying to bounce back from a disappointing 2018 season. The team acquired reliever from the Marlins in exchange for international bonus money in their first step toward solidifying their relief core.
Barraclough had emerged as a strikeout artist in the Miami bullpen over his four big league seasons, with a 3.21 career ERA and an overall mark of 11.5 strikeouts per nine innings. He has made at least 60 appearances in each of the past three seasons and struck out 60 batters in 55 2/3 innings in 2018, although his ERA jumped to a career-high 4.20, largely the product of a rocky second half.
Barraclough allowed 19 runs in 8 2/3 innings in his first 12 appearances out of the All-Star break before settling down over the last couple of weeks of September. In the first half, Barraclough was dominant, however, posting a 1.28 ERA and being named June's National League Reliever of the Month. That's the form the Nationals hope they'll be getting.

At some point this past summer, the Nats had one of their most formidable relief corps in team history, pairing four pitchers -- , , and -- with vast high leverage experience who could still perform. They built a bullpen that would help carry them in the postseason; however, the team failed to even reach the goal. Kintzler and Madson were traded away midseason to the Cubs and Dodgers, respectively, while Doolittle and Herrera spent much of the second half on the disabled list.
Doolittle, who has a team option almost certain to be picked up, will likely be the only significant veteran reliever to return. That could put Barraclough in a position to play a major role in the bullpen if he can return to his form of the first half.
One thing is for certain -- this move is a signal that the bullpen will be a major point of emphasis for Washington this offseason.