- Date of birth: July 22nd, 1991
- 2017 line: 28 games, 27.0 IP, 5.00 ERA, 26:15 K:BB
- 2017 value: -0.2 bWAR
- 2017 salary: minimum
- SnakePit rating: 3.76
It was a much leaner Jake Barrett who arrived at camp for spring training, having dropped 30 pounds over the winter: “I felt good during the season last year being at 265, but, I don’t know, I just was uncomfortable being that heavy. I feel like I can drop some weight and still maintain everything. I feel good now. My arm is getting loosened up. I feel good.” Barrett might have spoken too soon. He was looking to build on a solid rookie season, where he had posted a 3.49 ERA over almost 60 innings, and been among our best relievers. But his 2017 campaign was halted by injury, even before it had begun, as shoulder stiffness kept him off the Opening Day roster.
He began a minor-league rehab assignment in late April, and returned to Reno a couple of weeks later, but there was no bullpen spot open for him. He had to wait until almost the All-Star break, when Rubby De La Rosa went on the DL. After allowing a run in his 2017 debut, Jake put together a string of 13 scoreless appearances, covering 12.1 innings with 14 K’s. Then consecutive ugly games at Chase saw his ERA balloon from 0.69 to 4.32, and Barrett seemed to lose control. Over his last 14 games and innings, he allowed 14 earned runs, with a K:BB of only 11:10, and did not make our post-season rosters. The long-ball was a particular issue, Jake giving up six home-runs in that time.
To some extent, Barrett may simply have been unlucky, with over 20% of the fly-balls he allowed this year, leaving the park - more than double 2016’s rate (9.8%). His fastball in 2017 actually ticked up in velocity, averaging 96.1 mph, compared to 94.9 in the previous season. His repertoire was similar too, Jake sticking to the fastball/slider combination, with about two-thirds of his pitches being the former. There wasn’t even significantly more hard contact: going from 31.9% to 32.5% shouldn’t have much effect. It’s also true that Barrett somewhat over-achieved in 2016: his ERA was well below his FIP (4.14), and his xFIP (4.54) was much closer to his 2017 performance.
As with the other young pitchers in the organization, Barrett will probably get his opportunities in 2018, to show that the home-run rate this season was an aberration. If he can get that number back down to more normal levels, the ERA will naturally follow. He is still only 26, so has youth (and, let’s face it, cheapness) on his side, so will likely be in the mix for a bullpen spot again next year. Not getting stuck behind the eight-ball on Opening Day, due to injury would certainly be helpful. Otherwise, it’s going to be all about the performance for Barrett next year.