Barria makes '20 debut; Angels option Ward

August 19th, 2020

The Angels recalled right-hander and optioned outfielder to the club’s alternate training site in Long Beach, Calif., ahead of Tuesday’s 8-2 loss to the Giants.

Barria made his season debut on Tuesday, allowing two runs on four hits over 4 1/3 innings in relief. He didn't give up a run until allowing three straight doubles with two outs in the ninth.

"This is a pitcher who's got pitchability," Angels manager Joe Maddon said following the loss. "I thought he settled in. I was surprised they got to him in the ninth, because he really was making his pitches. He might have just got tired, it was pretty warm out there. So that might have been an issue too, but overall, I thought he was pretty good."

It’s the first time that Barria has been called up this season, and as evidenced by his lengthy outing on Tuesday, he will be used out of the bullpen as a long reliever. The Angels made the move because fellow long reliever Matt Andriese threw 46 pitches on Sunday and still isn’t available. Barria has more experience as a starter, but Maddon said before the game that the club doesn't currently need him in that role.

"Right now, we do have our starters set up,” Maddon said. “You always have to keep an open mind. I want to think that he can [start], and he can. But for right now, we're going to use him in this manner and things happen, just stay ready. Hopefully not, but injuries do pop up. Somebody's performance could lag and then his could get really good, so it's just an open-minded situation, but for right now he'll be throwing out of the bullpen."

Barria, 24, has a career 4.58 ERA after posting a 3.41 ERA in 129 1/3 innings as a rookie in 2018 and a 6.42 ERA in 82 2/3 innings last year. He was exclusively a starter in '18, but he made six relief appearances in '19. He has a career 4.08 ERA as a starter, compared to an 8.87 ERA out of the 'pen. Barria has indicated in the past that he prefers starting.

“At some point, you have to make an adjustment,” Maddon said. “And if you're not given the opportunity to start, then you may have to do something differently. He's a great kid. I just talked to him. I know that he's very eager.”

Trout seeing more strikes, walking less
is off to yet another strong start offensively, but he's been pitched differently this year, with more pitches being thrown to him in the zone. Last year, pitchers only threw pitches in the zone to Trout 40.1 percent of the time. He entered Tuesday seeing strikes on 49.5 percent of the pitches thrown to him, per Fangraphs. It's led to his walk rate dropping from 18.3 percent to 7 percent.

Trout has still done plenty of damage on those pitches in the strike zone, and Maddon believes having Anthony Rendon hitting behind him is the reason for the change.

"I've had arguments over protection, meaning you know the guy hitting behind the guy," Maddon said. "And a lot of times it's pooh-poohed, but I'm telling you, the lineup card comes over to the Giants and they see Trout [at No.] 3, 'We would really like to avoid him, but we can't with Rendon [at No.] 4.' It's that simple. I think Anthony's been very beneficial to Mike to this point."

Angels tidbits
• Jason Castro was held out of the lineup for a fifth straight day with neck stiffness, and Anthony Bemboom made his first start of the season behind the plate. Maddon said Castro is doing better and remains day to day.

• Maddon weighed in on the controversy between the Padres and Rangers after San Diego’s Fernando Tatis Jr. homered on a 3-0 pitch with the bases loaded and a seven-run lead on Monday. Maddon said he would give the take sign to his hitter in that situation, but he also wouldn’t be mad at an opposing player for swinging, either.

“For me, if we're getting our butts kicked, it's our fault,” Maddon said. “And it's not the other team's fault. The purpose of the game is to score runs, and I’ve always adhered to that. But for us, if we had a very large lead, more than likely you’ll not see the guys swing at a 3-0 pitch.”