Miami Marlins History: Kyle Barraclough’s Historic June

The Miami Marlins have seen 590 pitchers and fielders take the field in their 27-season major league history.

Just after the close of the 2018 campaign, the Miami Marlins parted ways with strikeout specialist Kyle Barraclough. They sent him to the Washington Nationals for international slot money. Over his final 17 appearances for the Marlins, he struck out 13, walked 11, and totaled a 13.50 ERA in 13 1/3 innings of work. But for a while there, Barraclough was untouchable.

Born on this date in 1990 in Santa Clara, CA, Kyle Barraclough grew into a six-foot-three 180 lb. relief pitcher. A right-hander, his extremely high strikeout rate was matched by his also very high walk rate. In four seasons playing for the Gaels at St. Mary’s College, he was 18-25 with a 4.36 ERA in 63 appearances, including 52 starts. He walked a total of 158 batters in 332 2/3 innings, while fanning 290.

In 2011, during his junior season, Barraclough was chosen in the 40th round of the draft by the Minnesota Twins, but wisely returned for his senior campaign with the Gaels. His patience was rewarded by getting taken in the seventh round the following season, by the St. Louis Cardinals.

Miami Marlins

PHILADELPHIA, PA – SEPTEMBER 15: Kyle Barraclough #46 of the Miami Marlins. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

Barraclough slogged through the Cards minor league system from his selection until right around the 2015 trade deadline, rising to the edge of the majors during that time. On July 25, St. Louis traded Barraclough to the Miami Marlins for fellow relief pitcher Steve Cishek. In essence, the Marlins traded away a proven commodity for a guy who might possibly be able to do the same job.

After his acquisition, the Marlins assigned Barraclough to their double-A affiliate, the Southern League’s Jacksonville Suns. After striking out nine and surrendering only one hit in four innings over four relief appearances, they called him up to the majors for the first time two weeks after joining the organization.

From that point through the end of the season, Barraclough struck out 30 in 24 1/3 innings while walking 18 and allowing only a dozen hits. Batters couldn’t hit Barraclough, but Barraclough couldn’t really hit the plate on command. His 1.225 WHIP was still slightly better than the team average, and Barraclough’s 2.59 ERA ranked behind only Carter Capps and then-current closer A.J. Ramos.

It was around this time that I got my daughter to occasionally watch the games with me. When ever Barraclough was called out of the pen, she would shout, “Bear Claw!” It was kind of our thing.

Bear Claw! – my then-five-year-old

In 2016, Barraclough led the Miami Marlins with 75 pitching appearances. He went 6-3 with a 2.85 ERA and struck out 113 batters in 72 2/3 innings for a 14.00 K/9 while holding them to a 5.57 H/9. He still walked 44, but the volume of batters he was striking out more than made up for the unsightly 5.45 BB/9.

Barraclough’s K/9 took a sharp southward turn in 2017, but he still whiffed 76 in 66 frames for a 10.4 rate. He was 6-2 with a 3.00 ERA and a slightly higher-than-preferable 1.379 WHIP, due to his 5.2 walks per nine innings.

In 2018 Barraclough had a month of June like nothing I’ve ever seen before. Soon after being named the closer, he struck out 12 in 12 innings, while walking two and surrendering only one hit. He saved seven of his Marlins-career-total 11 saves during the month while dropping his seasonal ERA to 0.99.

Unfortunately, the hot streak didn’t last. July’s 8.38 ERA and opposing .356/.453/.600 slashline was minuscule compared to his August 20.77 ERA and opposing .450/.621/.650 line.

After joining the Nationals, Barraclough was lit up with 33 hits in 25 2/3 innings and a 1.753 WHIP. In August, he was claimed of waivers by the San Francisco Giants, and has since been designated for assignment and outright to the minors. He’s currently rostered with the Sacramento River Cats, where he’s hoping to play his way back into the major leagues.

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