Barraclough, 33, has plenty of big league experience on his résumé, often pairing excellent strikeout stuff with control issues. From 2015 to 2017, he made 166 appearances for the Marlins, walking 14.5% of batters faced but punching out 31.7%. Despite the free passes, he was able to register an ERA of 2.87 in that stretch while recording one save and 57 holds.
From there, his results took a bad turn when home run troubles were added into the mix. From 2018 through 2022, his strikeout rate dipped to 25.1%, still above league average but below his own previous results. His 13.2% walk rate was a slight improvement for him but still very high. Meanwhile, 21 home runs in 111 1/3 innings pushed his ERA to 4.69 in that stretch. That pushed him into journeyman mode as he bounced from the Marlins to the Nationals, Giants, Twins and Angels.
This year, Barraclough has been pitching for the High Point Rockers of the Atlantic League. He’s seemingly been quite flexible about his usage, tossing 18 innings over seven appearances, starting two games but finishing three others. He’s allowed just two earned runs so far, leading to an ERA of 1.00 on the year. He has 17 strikeouts, four walks and has hit one batter. His last appearance was on Wednesday when he tossed 83 pitches over five innings, allowing one run on three hits and two walks while punching out three.
It’s unclear if the Sox want Barraclough to continue his recent move to the rotation or go back to his customary relief role, but they have challenges in both departments. In the rotation, both Nick Pivetta and Corey Kluber struggled enough to get bumped to the bullpen and Chris Sale and Tanner Houck have landed on the injured list. The relief corps currently has each of Richard Bleier, Zack Kelly, Joely Rodríguez, John Schreiber and Wyatt Mills on the IL.
However he’s deployed, Barraclough will give the club some non-roster depth as he tries to earn his way back to the big leagues. If he makes it there, he actually has an option year remaining, allowing him to provide the club with some roster flexibility. He could also be theoretically retained for 2024 via arbitration since he won’t be able to reach six years of service time here in 2023.