Barraclough's slider becoming a wipeout pitch

Marlins reliever worked on command in Triple-A

Barraclough's slider becoming a wipeout pitch

LOS ANGELES -- A main reason Kyle Barraclough was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans midway through Spring Training was to work on establishing command. Once the right-hander showed he was consistently in the zone with his fastball, it set up his most devastating pitch, a wipeout slider.

Barraclough has stabilized the back end of the Marlins' bullpen since being called up April 17. Going into Wednesday's game the right-hander had yet to allow a run, and he had struck out 10 with two walks in 5 2/3 innings.

In the first two games of the series with the Dodgers in Los Angeles, Barraclough faced four batters, and struck out each one of them. In Tuesday's 6-3 win over the Dodgers, the 25-year-old struck out the side in order.

"He's throwing strikes, and for the most part, that's what we did not see in Spring Training," manager Don Mattingly said. "He's been able to command the fastball and slider. He's been confident using it in a lot of different counts and that's made him tough. His demeanor has been really good."

On Tuesday, all three of Barraclough's strikeouts came via the slider.

According to Statcast™, Barraclough is getting his share of swinging strikes on his slider, even if it is not actually in the zone. Among relievers getting at least 10 swinging strikes on sliders, Barraclough ranks near the top.

Of the 47 sliders Barraclough has thrown, 12 have been swinging strikes.

Barraclough's swinging strike percentage of 25.53 is third among relievers with at least 10 swinging strikes. Topping the list is Yankees lefty Andrew Miller, with 34.62 percent (18 of 52 total pitches) and second is Washington's Shawn Kelley, with 28.26 (13 of 46).

"When I first got drafted I threw a split-finger," Barraclough said. "When I got rid of that, I became more reliant on the slider, and had to throw it more often. Throwing it more and more, it just became what it is now."

Barraclough's four-seam fastball average is listed by Statcast™ at 95.81 mph, which gives hitters something else to worry about. The slider averages 82.7 mph.

As long as he's around the zone, Barraclough is having success, despite throwing 38.6 percent of all his pitches in the zone.

"You don't have to worry about being so perfect with it," Barraclough said. "You don't have to be like, 'I have to throw this in the zone.' I can throw it around the zone, and the chance of them swinging at it goes up. A strike is a strike if they swing, or if it's in the zone. Either one works for me."

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for since 2002. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.