One of the Washington Nationals most under-the-radar additions this offseason was Kyle Barraclough. Coming off of a down year with the Miami Marlins before he was dealt, he could be a huge part of the bullpen next season if he can right the wrongs of 2018.
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During the first three years of his career, Barraclough has been an extremely reliable setup man, posting 57 holds to go with a 2.87 ERA and striking more than 12 batters per nine innings. It was getting to the point where several people thought he was destined to be the closer of the future for the Fish.
But in 2018 as their closer for a fair portion of the season, he struggled in comparison to the impressive numbers he had previously posted. He recorded a 4.20 ERA with just 10 holds and 10 saves while blowing seven saves as he struggled to miss bats at the lofty rate in his previous three seasons.
It’s entirely possible that Barraclough thrives as a setup man rather than as a closer, as he has career 2.76 ERA in innings before the ninth inning and a 5.11 ERA in the ninth. Thankfully, that’s exactly what will be expected of him with the Nationals.
Currently, the right-hander is slated to open the season as the seventh inning man behind Sean Doolittle and Trevor Rosenthal. That should take a lot of the pressure off of him in his first year in D.C. and once again allow him to thrive while becoming a key cog in the revamped Nationals bullpen.
The Washington Nationals certainly have a lot that they need to correct if they hope to be contenders once again in 2019. But it feels like the performance of these four players, in particular, could be enough to swing the balance back in their favor.