Barraclough, 29, represents the “successful” half of the Nats offseason bullpen upgrades. Entering the season, Washington hoped to install the since-departed Trevor Rosenthal as their eighth inning man, with Barraclough targeted for seventh inning setup duties. Obviously, the Nats had to audible not long into the season as Rosenthal imploded like few pitchers can, while Barraclough’s struggles were more pedestrian in comparison. Still, Barraclough ultimately landed on the injured list with nerve irritation in mid-June.
Yesterday marked Barraclough’s return, which he celebrated with a wild pitch before Justin Turner launched a 3-1 get-me-over fastball into the left field bleachers for the game-winning three-run homer. He did retire Cody Bellinger to end the inning, but Barraclough nonetheless finds himself headed back from whence he came not 24 hours after his arrival.
For the season, the Nats called on Barraclough 33 times for 25 2/3 innings with a 6.66 ERA (6.57 FIP). His walk rate (4.2 BB/9) is actually at a career low, while his 10.5 K/9 is his highest mark since 2016. Those improvements have paled in comparison to the regression in terms of quality of contact surrendered, however. Hitters against Barraclough have seen their year-over-year solid contact rates improve from 1.4% to 10.0% and barrel rates from 4.8% to 13.8%. Those contact rates have yielded 11.6 hits per nine innings and 2.8 HR/9.
As for Sanchez, 28, he returns to his place at the end of the Nationals bench. Today marks Sanchez’s seventh stint with the big league club this season, where he serves as the emergency backup shortstop and rarely-used 25th man. For the season he has started just once with 20 total plate appearances. He has four hits and seven strikeouts. Without Sanchez, the Nationals don’t have a backup for shortstop Trea Turner on the roster, but given the rarity with which the Nats put Sanchez to use, one would think a playoff contender like Washington could find a better use for a roster spot.