Kyle Barraclough likely would have been the Marlins’ closer since late July had he not hurt his right shoulder.
Barraclough is almost back from the disabled list, and could earn himself that opportunity in the near future.
“That’s always been my goal,” Barraclough said. “It’s a matter of time. I just have to take care of my business. It’s for the coaches to decide if and when that time is right and go from there.”
Before the Marlins traded then-closer A.J. Ramos to the Mets on July 28, Marlins manager Don Mattingly indicated strongly that Barraclough would be his preferred option in that role.
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But two days prior to the deal, Barraclough was placed on the disabled list with a right shoulder impingement.
Barraclough, who has not pitched since July 24, has thrown two rehab innings recently and is expected to be reactivated from the disabled list — possibly as early as Tuesday.
“My shoulder is feeling a lot better; no pain, no soreness,” Barraclough said. “Everything has felt good along the way.”
Brad Ziegler has been the Marlins closer since the Ramos trade, and has converted all four save situations in which he has pitched since August 1 — and not allowed a run in five appearances overall.
Mattingly may choose to use both Ziegler and Barraclough to close games for the remainder of this season.
Ziegler, 37, will be in the final year of a two-year, $16 million contract next season.
Barraclough, 27, presents a viable option long-term, since he’s still under team control for four more seasons after this year.
Barraclough closed regularly in the Cardinals’ farm system before the Marlins acquired him in 2015 in a trade for Steve Cishek.
Mattingly said Monday that Barraclough would resume pitching in high-leverage situations in late innings upon his return.
“He just gives you another capable guy back there,” Mattingly said. “We’ve used him all year long in the toughest assignments. That could be the seventh, the eighth or the ninth [innings]. He’s always had the toughest guys [in the opposing lineup] because we know his stuff plays with all those guys.”
Barraclough is 4-1 with a 3.30 ERA with 50 strikeouts and 31 walks.
Barraclough has had the velocity to be effective with a fastball averaging 95.06 mph nearly two miles above the MLB average (93.11) according to Statcast.
Mattingly believes improvement of his fastball command to complement his plus-slider and effective changeup is the biggest key to Barraclough becoming a full-time major-league closer.
Barraclough’s rate of 14 strikeouts per nine innings in 2016 has dipped to 9.7 this season. He also has a career rate of 5.8 walks per nine innings.
“He’s capable of doing it,” Mattingly said. “He has ‘swing-and-miss’ stuff. What we’d like to see more of him is throw the fastball when he wants and get it where he wants. He’s got a great slider and when it’s going, it’s pretty much unhittable.”
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Giancarlo Stanton’s torrid home run streak helped him earn National League Player of the Week honors. Stanton hit .333 last week in seven games with six home runs, 11 RBI and a 1.037 slugging percentage.
Nick Wittgren is feeling relieved the strained right elbow that’s kept him out since July 27 wasn’t a serious issue. Wittgren feared it could have been much worse even requiring Tommy John surgery, but the MRI came back clean. Wittgren said the inflammation and soreness he was feeling has subsided and he hopes to resume throwing soon.
▪ Tuesday: Marlins RHP Dan Straily (7-8, 3.74 ERA) vs. San Francisco Giants LHP Madison Bumgarner (2-5, 2.71), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.
▪ Wednesday: Marlins RHP Jose Urena (10-5, 3.76) vs. Giants (TBA), 1:10 p.m., Marlins Park.