Following another rough outing for righty Brad Ziegler, Marlins manager Don Mattingly announced to reporters that right-hander Kyle Barraclough will take over as the team’s closer (link via Joe Frisaro of MLB.com).
While Ziegler, 38, technically only has one blown save on the year, it’s been a nightmarish start to the season for him all the same. He’s been scored upon in 10 of his 24 appearances (including three of his past five) and is currently carrying a 7.83 ERA with 34 hits, six walks and a hit batter through 23 innings. Ziegler’s 5.9 K/9 is right in line with his career mark, and he’s still showing good control (2.4 BB/9) with excellent ground-ball tendencies (68.7 percent). However, the submariner is serving up hard contact at a 46.5 percent clip after registering a 28.2 percent mark in that regard a year ago.
Ziegler is playing out the second season of a two-year, $16MM contract and is owed the balance of a $9MM salary through season’s end. While the organization’s hope had surely been that he pitched well enough to be a desirable trade piece this summer, that hasn’t been the case thus far. He’ll presumably work in some lower-leverage situations for awhile, perhaps matching up primarily against right-handed opponents, as he looks to get back on track.
As for Barraclough, the changing of the guard in the ninth inning presents him with his first crack at closing in the big leagues. The 28-year-old has never displayed good control in the Majors (5.5 BB/9 in his career and in 2018), but he’s mitigated the damage of those free passes, to a large extent, by racking up impressive strikeout numbers. Barraclough has averaged 11.8 K/9 in his big league career and has a 10.0 mark in that category so far in 2018.
The move comes with plenty of financial implications for Barraclough, as well. The righty will be eligible for arbitration for the first time this offseason and has already 64 holds in his big league career. Adding four months’ worth of saves to his resume, assuming he is able to continue pitching well in his new role, would further his impressive resume and build a nice case for a a first-time payday in the arb process.