Who is he and where did he come from?
He’s Kyle Barraclough. I know there’s a lot of low-hanging jokes made about Chaim Bloom signing guys off of indie ball diamonds, but this time, Barraclough, who was drafted by the Cardinals 240th overall in 2012, was literally out of the MLB and pitching for the High Point Rockers of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball, a partnered independent league. He does have almost 300 innings of relief experience in the Majors since his call-up by the Marlins in 2015.
What position does he play?
He’s a right-handed pitcher, and, though the Rockers have used him twice as a starter this season, he is overwhelmingly a relief pitcher.
Is he any good?
I mean... he was on six different organizations’ 40-man roster since 2019, hasn’t stuck around anywhere longer than a year, and was playing for an indie league, so, no, probably not. However, before people make “cue the duckboats!” or “what size ring does he wear?” jokes, being that this was a minor-league deal, he could be a lot worse. He had a 1.00 ERA for the Rockers in 7 games, two of which he uncharacteristically started, and from 2015 to 2022, the 33-year-old doesn’t have a season where he struck less than a batter out per inning, including 12.46 K’s per 9 as recently as 2021 as part of the Twins’ roster. He does struggle mightily with walks, walking 5.48 batters per 9 innings in his career, and his ERA (3.61) suffers as a result.
Being that he’s 33, his fastball velocity is ticking down, from a hair over 96 in 2016 to a 93.3 average in each of the last two seasons. He also has a change-up and a slider, the latter of which has seen a 5 mph decline in recent years. Chaim Bloom is likely hoping that he can return to early form, where Baseball Savant had him ranked in the 97th percentile in barrel percentage... even if he was in the 1st percentile in walk percentage.
Show me a cool highlight.
Here’s four. It’s from August 12, 2015, so you’ll have to forgive me for the lack of recency here, but the first of Barraclough’s 18 Major League wins was actually against the Red Sox. The Marlins would win 14-6, so Barraclough was probably not a huge circumstance in this win; you and I may have gotten the W on the box score given the Marlins’ offensive onslaught in late innings, but Barraclough fanned four batters (Rusney Castillo, Blake Swihart, Jackie Bradley Jr., Eduardo Rodriguez... hey, still counts!) in his four outs. The slider plays a part here, so even if it was the 25-year-old version of Barraclough, he still uses multiple pitches to make guys miss.
What’s he doing in his picture up there?
Ugh, I’m not good at this and Barraclough doesn’t have enough material where he’s making a funny face! He’s just pitching... more likely than not, looking at his Fangraphs, the ball in question was either a strike 3 or a ball 4. That’s my joke for this section, I guess.
What’s his role on the 2023 Red Sox?
Ughhhh, this is a tough one, too, but it shouldn’t be. Part of me thinks he won’t leave Worcester, but that’d be silly of me to assume. Barraclough has significantly more Major League experience than the likes of Justin Garza, Ryan Sherriff, Brennan Bernardino, etc. However Joely Rodriguez, John Schreiber and maybe Richard Bleier come back from the IL soon, even if most of the guys I just listed were lefties. I’d be hard-pressed to believe Barroclaugh gets much playing time at Fenway in 2023, outside of making some relief appearances when there are guys like Tanner Houck out and Cora anticipates having to dip into his bullpen often. If nothing else, the mere mention of his name could make those at Fenway filled with hope that the park could serve a certain type of Danish.... and I don’t mean Tyler. Mmmmm, bear claw. With some luck, we’ll be cheering for more than the thought of the pastry when Kyle takes the field.