Nov 22, 2015, 6:00 AM EST
Age on Opening Day 2016: 28
How acquired: 9th round pick, 2010 draft
MLB service time: 1 year, 144 days
2015 salary+bonuses: $514,200
Contract status: Likely arbitration-eligible (Super-2) in 2017, free agent in 2021
2015 stats: 40 G, 29.1 IP, 28 H, 15 R, 15 ER, 1 HR, 7 BB, 35 K, 1.193 WHIP, 3-3, 4.60 ERA, 2.21 FIP, 0.0 WAR
Quotable: “It stinks, obviously. But I know the return rate is good. I was in good care with Dr. Andrews, and I know that I’m going to come back even stronger.” — Aaron Barrett
2015 analysis: On the heels of an eye-opening rookie season, Barrett figured to hold a prominent role near the back end of the Nationals’ bullpen. But as was true of most members of that group, he never found a groove and couldn’t solidify his key role.
Barrett actually pitched better than the numbers suggested, though. Despite a hefty 4.60 ERA, he cut his walk rate in half from his rookie season (from 4.4 per 9 innings to 2.1 per 9 innings) while continuing to strike out batters at a good pace (10.7 per 9 innings).
Turns out his problem was physical. Barrett ultimately admitted he was pitching in pain most of the season. He landed on the DL in June with a biceps strain, then finally spoke up in August after being told he was being demoted to Class AAA Syracuse. An MRI revealed a torn elbow ligament, bone chips and a bone spur. He underwent Tommy John surgery and now faces a long road back from the injury.
2016 outlook: Barrett won’t figure into the Nationals’ plans for the majority of the season. It’s possible he won’t even return to pitch at all in 2016, if his timeline for recovery falls around the latter stages of the typical 12-to-18 month prognosis.
The track record for full recovery from Tommy John surgery is strong, and certainly the Nationals have guided many pitchers through the process. But it will be long, tedious road for Barrett, who probably won’t begin playing catch until shortly before spring training and won’t throw off a mound until the rest of his teammates have returned north for Opening Day.
If all goes well, Barrett could go on a rehab assignment next summer and then possible rejoin the Nationals’ rotation in August or September. How effective he is, and what role the club gives him at that point, remains to be seen.
FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS
ON THE RADIO
As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 schedule (subject to change)...
MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.
*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.
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