Skip to content

Barrett passes yet another test with Stanton strikeout in Nats’ win

Apr 11, 2014, 9:58 AM EST

USA Today Sports Images USA Today Sports Images

This time last year, Aaron Barrett was one week into the job as closer of the Harrisburg Senators. He was still searching for his first career save at the Double-A level.

Fast forward 12 months and Barrett is a budding star in the Washington Nationals’ bullpen. He’s yet to allow a run through five career MLB outings, a convincing follow-up to his dominant spring of 10 2/3 scoreless innings.

Barrett has been so good that Nationals manager Matt Williams continues to put the rookie in high leverage situations. On Thursday it was in the top of the eighth inning with the Nats nursing a 2-1 lead over the Marlins.

Barrett took the mound against notorious slugger Giancarlo Stanton with two outs. Though Barrett said afterwards Stanton may be the largest man he’s ever pitched against, he was able to strike out Stanton swinging on a hooking slider.

Five of the six pitches Barrett offered to Stanton were, in fact, sliders. Catcher Sandy Leon – his teammate in 2013 at Harrisburg – calls it his best pitch.

“His best pitch is a slider. We got a 2-2 count and I said ‘I want you to throw your best pitch, the slider.’ He threw a nasty one, it was good.”

Just five games into his MLB career, Barrett is thankful for the trust Williams has beset on him.

“It definitely feels good, knowing that he has confidence to put me in those type of situations,” Barrett said. “I think that everyone in the bullpen is capable of handling those roles. When my name is called, I’m just trying to go out there and do my job and get guys out.”

Big game situations are nothing new for Barrett who had 52 saves in four minor league seasons. He has closer stuff, and has found success in late innings before, only with a lot less people watching.

Barrett believes that experience, even though it was on a different scale, has prepared him for his current role.

“You definitely have to embrace it. I think in the minor leagues, closing has definitely prepared me for that situation. Obviously not to that magnitude. He’s obviously a great hitter. You just have to embrace it.  My mentality is to win every pitch and try to execute that pitch. Get hitters out.”

Barrett has now finished two games for the Nats, and preserved close leads in two other wins. His reliability – at least so far – has caught the attention of his elder teammates.

“What Aaron Barrett did, that was big,” Ian Desmond said. “Stanton up at the plate. Rookie up there pitching. He went after him and he beat him, which is good. It’s good for him, a little confidence-builder and something for him to draw back on in the future.”

“He’s tough, man. He’s got good stuff,” Jayson Werth said. “He seems like a good kid. Ninety-five with sink and a nasty slider, that’s pretty tough. But you got a guy like that to go with the guys we’ve got gives skipper a bunch of options back there, which is good.”

Barrett is currently part of a deep Nats’ bullpen that has plenty of options for late inning situations, but with each outing the 26-year-old is proving himself worthy of a larger role. There’s no question his MLB future is bright.

“He’s a bulldog,” Stephen Strasburg said. “He’s not scared of anybody. That’s why he’s on this team and that’s why he’s going to be put in those positions many times this year.”

  1. lphboston - Apr 11, 2014 at 10:17 AM

    Loves this kid’s approach to the game and love the fact that he doesn’t back off. Also love that Williams is showing confidence in him. Reminds me a bit of Goose Gossage. Might not hurt to put a little heat on Soriano either.

    • Sonny G 10 - Apr 11, 2014 at 10:23 AM

      Yea, couldn’t hurt. Soriano actually really looked good to me last night. I usually cringe when he’s pitching.

      • natszee - Apr 11, 2014 at 10:32 AM

        Me too!

      • realdealnats - Apr 11, 2014 at 12:11 PM

        Must agree. Soriano looked pretty good to me too.

      • rabbit433 - Apr 11, 2014 at 1:34 PM

        That’s because we had a good sized lead. Cringe when it’s one run.

  2. Sec 3 My Sofa - Apr 11, 2014 at 10:20 AM

    “Just five games into his MLB career, Barrett is thankful for the trust Williams has beset on him.”

    Chase, I think you mean bestowed, no?

    • unkyd59 - Apr 11, 2014 at 10:41 AM

      Yep… Henry was beset with control issues, but trust has been bestowed upon Master Barrett…

      • Doc - Apr 11, 2014 at 11:07 AM

        Yeah Chase, at your behest, it should be bestowed. Although, Stanton was beset with Barrett’s wicked slider.

        Thinking that getting Stanton out also means that Barrett will be getting a lot of lesser hitters out this year!

        By the way, as of to-day’s MLB stats the Nats’ BP is ahead of the Braves’ BP, Kimbrel notwithstanding.

      • Sec 3 My Sofa - Apr 11, 2014 at 11:25 AM

        We may need a “Beset Mode” tee shirt for this kid…

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 11, 2014 at 11:33 AM

        Good stuff! Beset Mode. He does need a nickname. SCK. STONE COLD KILLER

        That’s how I like my closers. Nice guys are in the front of the bullpen.

      • Sec 3 My Sofa - Apr 11, 2014 at 11:39 AM

        If you’re going to be a cult leader, you need a brand. Stone Cold is a proven trademark; he could do lots worse.

      • realdealnats - Apr 11, 2014 at 12:17 PM

        Maybe the new Mr. PFB!

      • Sec 3 My Sofa - Apr 11, 2014 at 1:28 PM

        Oh, wait … he’s already got a tee shirt.

      • realdealnats - Apr 11, 2014 at 6:15 PM


    • realdealnats - Apr 11, 2014 at 12:14 PM

      “only with a lot FEWER people watching…”

      • NatsNut - Apr 11, 2014 at 1:01 PM

        realdeal, didn’t see your post. I do believe I owe you a coke. 😉

      • Sec 3 My Sofa - Apr 11, 2014 at 1:29 PM

        but getting lesser hitters than Stanton out!

    • NatsNut - Apr 11, 2014 at 1:00 PM

      “He has closer stuff, and has found success in late innings before, only with a lot less people watching.”

      It’s “fewer.”


  3. Sonny G 10 - Apr 11, 2014 at 10:20 AM

    Just makes my heart swell with pride.

  4. Sec 3 My Sofa - Apr 11, 2014 at 10:24 AM

    So I checked, and lots more guys than I thought have won Rookie of the Year pitching primarily out of the bullpen, but they were all closers. So we’ll see.

  5. laddieblahblah - Apr 11, 2014 at 10:27 AM

    Matt made the right call with that young man. They already have Soriano’s replacement for next year. He is serving a heck of an apprenticeship, thus far. And Rizzo is already counting the money he will save, and can use elsewhere after Soriano departs.

    Another coup for Mr. Rizzo’s scouting and talent evaluation operations, and in picking that kid up, cheap.

    • realdealnats - Apr 11, 2014 at 12:15 PM


      Barrett sure looks fine, true enough, but how will he do the second and third time through the league. Hope you’re right, and hope what I’m hoping is right.

      • laddieblahblah - Apr 11, 2014 at 12:58 PM

        We will see. His slider is a killer pitch. Soriano has his cutter, but Barrett’s slider is a nastier pitch. He did not allow a run in ST, and none, so far, in the bigs.

      • therealjohnc - Apr 11, 2014 at 2:55 PM

        Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Remember how great Ian Krol looked his first time through the league? After that, not so much.

        But even Atlanta catcher Evan Gattis reportedly said (after striking out vs. Barrett): “that’s a good slider.” So we can enjoy the now for sure!

  6. Eric - Apr 11, 2014 at 10:31 AM

    Faraz, picking this one up from the last thread:

    I’m feeling ambivalent about the Nats/Angels series, honestly. I think what I’d really like is to see Harp channel Ty Cobb more so than the Mick for that series. I think he can play the game pretty effectively both ways and it would drive the media crazy 😉.

    • Faraz Shaikh - Apr 11, 2014 at 10:53 AM

      I like the Cobb way more. Hustle and madness on the field! like you are out to kill your opponents! 😛

      His 1st to 3rd may have been a bit lucky but was awesome nonetheless.

  7. tcostant - Apr 11, 2014 at 10:38 AM

    This guy might be the feel good story of the year. I remember Mark posting something late in the spring training how Barrett had 12 enpty lockers around him, because they tend to put all the guys together who will end up going to minor league camp. This guy has showed his stuff. He is fearless.

  8. Sonny G 10 - Apr 11, 2014 at 10:48 AM

    Anyone remember how we acquired Barrett? Did we draft him or trade for him?

    • Faraz Shaikh - Apr 11, 2014 at 10:50 AM

      draft, 9th round of 2010 draft.

      • Sonny G 10 - Apr 11, 2014 at 10:52 AM

        Thanks, Faraz.

      • realdealnats - Apr 11, 2014 at 12:21 PM

        I’m not sure what impresses me more with Rizzo–drafting a hidden gem like Barrett in the 9th or picking up a talent like Roark as the seeming throwin on a trade. He seems to do both well. I hope this formula keeps working now that we’ll be drafting much further back.

      • Sec 3 My Sofa - Apr 11, 2014 at 1:34 PM

  9. adcwonk - Apr 11, 2014 at 11:02 AM

    I think I remember reading about him that MW knew him from Airzona Fall League. And that Barrett always had a good slider, but couldn’t control his fastball. This year, Barrett found his fastball control, and that’s made all the difference in the world.

    Do the Nats have enough good relief pitchers to have “two sets” — something like: Storen/Soriano on one day, and Barrett/Clippard the next (or something like that) — for a series like Atlanta, when you might need top relievers for three days in a row? (That was going to be Davey’s plan in early 2012, until injuries hit). What do folks think of that kind of strategy? (My own feeling is that it’s an awesome strategy, but rarely can work unless you have four top relievers).

    • Eric - Apr 11, 2014 at 11:15 AM

      I think could work, but would require our starts to go 7+ more often, methinks.

      • adcwonk - Apr 11, 2014 at 11:16 AM

        You have guys like Blevins and Detwiler to pitch the seventh. Stammen if you need even more innings.

    • tcostant - Apr 11, 2014 at 11:15 AM

      I don’t think Williams is a pen A and pen B, guy. I think he more like Riggleman was, ride the major guys as needed (Storen, Clip and Soriano) nad then fill in the rest if a starter goes short or one of those three needs a rest.

      • adcwonk - Apr 11, 2014 at 11:19 AM

        ride the major guys as needed (Storen, Clip and Soriano) …

        RIght — but if Barrett continues as he does, then there’s four major guys, and if they split it around, they’re all fresh in September. (And that’s not even counting Blevins and Detwiler). And Stammen as long-man extraordinaire. It’s not inconceivable that the Nats could have a small lead against a good team three nights in a row . . . . if you ride the top three in the first two games, you don’t have any of the three for the third game.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 11, 2014 at 11:17 AM

      adcwonk, I think MW is a touch and feel to each situation and workload. Clip was spent from Thursday’s marathon so it setup Barrett if all went according to plan which it did. It worked out perfectly for the real save which was what Blevins and Barrett pulled off in the 8th in a 1 run game.

      My caution to the wind is what I wrote on Barrett’s next encounter with Stanton is more fair play. The Nats created a new strategy on Giancarlo and it worked. Giancarlo will make his own adjustments as these teams meet again on Monday! He now has a book on Barrett. Barrett better adjust himself as it’s hard to make Stanton look bad twice.

      • Eric - Apr 11, 2014 at 11:20 AM

        Yeah, now I really hope Barrett gets to go at him again next week…could be a fun little side story for awhile!

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 11, 2014 at 11:29 AM

        Barrett throws 4 pitches, 4-seam, 2-seam, slider, change. I hope he was saving a little for their next encounter. Giancarlo saw 5 sliders and the 2 seam with tail.

        We’ve all seen that Giancarlo can do things with baseballs that others can’t.

        Lets not get cocky here. Nats got the better of this series. It’s a long season.

      • natsjackinfl - Apr 11, 2014 at 11:37 AM

        I agree, Ghost. Matt seems to let the situation dictate his moves and he seems keenly aware of every aspect of every situation.

        This guy is more than a knowledgeable student of the game. He leans from even the slightest mistake and adjusts on the fly.

        And it all starts with a plan that allows adjustment. I like everything I’ve seen, so far.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 11, 2014 at 11:53 AM

        NatsJack, a student of the game is a good description. I always loved Davey but he was stubborn and sometimes spit in the wind. Game 5 puts in EJax to relief pitch which was just a splat on his face. Not a chance MW would have done that.

        MW also double switched out RZim yesterday which was a strategic move. This isn’t a Boys Club. Matty is already making decisions that are necessary to win in old school ways.

        He’s giving me nothing to complain about since he’s already fixed the Henley problem and made amazing in-game adjustments. His bullpen management has been masterful so far.

        The only thing he can’t do is pitch, field and catch for these guys.

      • Eric - Apr 11, 2014 at 11:47 AM

        Lets not get cocky here. Nats got the better of this series. It’s a long season.

        Oh, I don’t *expect* Barrett to dominate Giancarlo every time or even most times, which will just raise the tension when they meet and the and excitement if Barrett has a repeat performance.

        Like I said, it could be a fun little side story 😉. The tension and release of baseball is what I love most, and that showdown had it in spades.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 11, 2014 at 12:01 PM

        Eric, so long as the D&G group doesn’t bash Barrett when he has a bad day then it’s ok. Stanton gets paid a few bucks to smash good pitches and especially mistake pitches. He did that to Soriano last year on a good pitch and he rarely misses a hanger.

        Strasburg’s HR to Ozuna was a great pitch. Credit to the batter. It happens.

        Teheran will make a mistake tonight to Bryce and others and the Nats have to be ready to pounce.

      • rabbit433 - Apr 11, 2014 at 1:38 PM

        Ghost, I remember when the only thing us fans knew about what a pitcher threw was that it was a baseball.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 11, 2014 at 1:39 PM

        LMAO, see ball hit ball.

    • realdealnats - Apr 11, 2014 at 12:30 PM

      I used to think I loved Davey’s A & B BP policy. But with this team, and the way it seems to be trending, I like MW’s unspoken philosopy of be ready to hit anywhere in the lineup on any day and be ready to pitch in any situation. There’s something I really like about seeing Roark sitting in the BP yesterday ready to go. There something I really like about crazily thinking when Barrett comes in to pitch to Stanton, hey maybe he’ll just stick around for the 9th too. And I do feel like this strategy–this philosopy–will have a positive effect on Soriano. It’ll help him keep his edge–and keep everyone from getting complascent. Not sure this approach works on all teams, but seems to be instilling the “win now” approach into all 25.

      • adcwonk - Apr 11, 2014 at 12:50 PM

        Not sure this approach works on all teams

        Or whether it can work for an entire season . . .

        But, hey, it might. Standard baseball theory (folks like to know their role, like to be in a certain batting place to get comfort, etc.) isn’t always right.

    • NatsNut - Apr 11, 2014 at 1:05 PM

      It wasn’t that he couldn’t control his fastball, the story is that he couldn’t control *any* ball. It was a short stint with Steve Blass/Rick Ankiel disease that he overcame.

  10. adcwonk - Apr 11, 2014 at 11:15 AM

    Wonk’s Friday Fridbits

    (Due to time and other considerations, this will be the last “tidbits” column until next Thursday)

    Indians starter Danny Salazar only lasted 3-2/3 innings. His line: 3-2/3 IP, 6 H, 2 BB, 10 K, 5 ER to take the loss. (Note: that’s 10K’s in 11 outs, setting a record)

    Jean Segura has been caught stealing three times already

    Joe Mauer still has no RBIs

    Nats pitchers struck out 17 Marlins yesterday — a franchise record for both teams. Nats pitchers threw 127 pitches, 93 strikes, a ridiculously high 73%. The Nats lead the league in K’s with 105. Second place is the Dodgers, who have played three more games than the Nats. (Nats have an absurdly high 11.5 K/9 IP) Third in team ERA. Nats are the only NL team without a WP. On the hitting side: 3rd in BA/OBP/SLG, 2nd in HR. Nats have outscored opponents 42-15 from the fourth inning on this season.

    Phillies bullpen: allowed 12 runs and 14 hits in 11 IP in the series. Phillies fielders: 10 errors in nine games this season.

    Astros gave up three in the bottom of the ninth — and still beat the Jays 6-4. They prepared for the game, against Dickey, by taking batting practice against Houston radio announcer Steve Sparks, a former MLB knuckleballer — and got five runs off of Dickey. Now that’s being part of the team! (Bo Porter arranged that once last year, and the ‘Stros blasted Dickey that time, too).

    Eric Young of the Mets got three hits, stole three bases, and scored four times against the Braves yesterday. (He also had 2 SB Tuesday night in the series opener). Yowza!

    BJ Upton used the LaRoche strategy — he got hitting tips from Chipper Jones — and hit a triple. Brother Justin hit two HR’s (including a monster 477 footer — longest at Turner field since 2010 (Dunn!). Scary stat: last night Hale became the first Atlanta starting pitcher to give up more than two runs this season. (Uhh, yeah, their breaking out of their slumps right when we’re coming into town).

    Michael Morse hit a 410 foot double. ESPN said it would have been a HR in all 29 other MLB parks. (He went 2-4 to get back to .400).


    • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 11, 2014 at 11:20 AM

      Michael Morse hit ball far. Michael Morse needs to stay healthy. The guy can hit.

    • Eric - Apr 11, 2014 at 11:49 AM

      ” Nats are the only NL team without a WP”


      • Sec 3 My Sofa - Apr 11, 2014 at 11:57 AM

        I’m guessing he means Wild Pitch. A tribute to the catchers, IMO.

      • Eric - Apr 11, 2014 at 12:35 PM

        Thanks, makes sense.

      • adcwonk - Apr 11, 2014 at 12:48 PM

        Wild Pitch

    • jd - Apr 11, 2014 at 12:00 PM

      Good stuff Wonk.

      Happy Passover.

      • adcwonk - Apr 11, 2014 at 12:49 PM

        Thanks — and to you too and all MOT 😉

    • adcwonk - Apr 11, 2014 at 1:56 PM

      Three more for the weekend:

      – Stephen Strasburg struck out 12 Marlins in 6 2/3 innings and still managed to finish fourth on his team in K/9 for the day.

      – Pedro Alvarez has eight hits in 35 at-bats. Five of them are home runs.

      – The Padres have led for a total of 10 1/3 innings this season

  11. Theophilus T.S. - Apr 11, 2014 at 11:54 AM

    Morse got a lot of really unfair grief here, mostly from people perfectly happy to tell you Xavier Nady has a superior WARP against alien left-handers. SF seems perfectly happy combo-ing him w/ Blanco for late innings defense.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 11, 2014 at 12:28 PM

      That is too true. People love to hate him and like I’ve said if he stays healthy he will hit ball far.

      Sure, he will never win a Gold Glove in LF but you find a place for a guy who can hit. At least he isn’t playing shortstop any more.

      • laddieblahblah - Apr 11, 2014 at 1:04 PM

        Ghost, the 2 guys who really wanted ALR instead of Morse were Davey and Rizzo. It really didn’t matter what anyone else thought.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 11, 2014 at 1:18 PM

        Davey for sure and I tend to agree Morse was here as leverage for ALR to take a 1 year deal. Morse suffered the entire year with that wrist injury but no telling what he would have done if healthy based on his hot start.

        29 teams passed on him again this off-season. He will have something to prove when he faces the Nats this year.

      • laddieblahblah - Apr 11, 2014 at 2:40 PM

        That will be fun – to see the Beast against the Nats.

        But – he has to stay off the DL! I’d rather see him on the DL, frankly. When he gets hot, he is the BEAST.

    • Brookstoor - Apr 11, 2014 at 12:39 PM

      There are more than a few people out there who still pine for the return of Michael Morse. Maybe the hate was only on this site…out of all of the nats blogs I read, it is almost all adoration for The Beast to this day.

      • Eric - Apr 11, 2014 at 12:50 PM


        Rarely do I see people hate on Morse. I mean, the dude’s walk up music is currently ensconced in the seventh inning stretch!

      • Sec 3 My Sofa - Apr 11, 2014 at 1:35 PM

        It was his own bosses, Riggleman and Rizzo, who insisted he wasn’t good enough to start.

  12. philipd763 - Apr 11, 2014 at 11:57 AM

    They could be grooming Barrett to eventually replace Soriano. We know for sure Soriano won’t be back next year. Barrett has been impressive.

  13. philipd763 - Apr 11, 2014 at 12:04 PM

    Michael Morse is hitting .400 with 4 doubles, 2 home runs and 10 RBIs. If he can stay healthy, he will help the Giants. Everyone on this board loved Morse in 2011 when he had a career year with the bat and filled in at first base for the injured Adam Laroche.

    • stoatva - Apr 11, 2014 at 12:15 PM

      AT&T Park is huge in right center, where so much of Morse’s power is, so I had a hard time seeing SF as a good fit for The Beast. I’m glad to see it’s going well anyway, cuz we luvz us some Mikey Mo.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 11, 2014 at 12:32 PM

        This game is recognizing once again that doubles count as power if you hit enough of them. Anything over a .850 OPS will make you a beast and keep in mind, the Giants play 81 games on the road.

        Last week I named my top NL teams which included the Giants where that Morse guy plays. I didn’t include the Brewers and wonder how long they can keep the top ERA in the Majors.

      • Sec 3 My Sofa - Apr 11, 2014 at 1:44 PM

        “Doubles are runs.”
        I think Abraham Lincoln said that. Or Earl Weaver; I always get those two confused.

    • laddieblahblah - Apr 11, 2014 at 1:07 PM

      “If he can stay healthy”

      That’s the rub. He got off to a similar start with Seattle last year, and then got injured. I lost track of him but Seattle just released him at some point. He ended up around .220, or so, for last year.

    • realdealnats - Apr 11, 2014 at 6:27 PM

      I vote we let the Beast play Take on Me for Walk Up Music when he bats here.

  14. Doc - Apr 11, 2014 at 3:58 PM

    Ghost that look that Barrett gave Stanton when Stanton tossed his bat after striking out—now that was the look of a stone cold killer!!!!!

    Barrett has ice-water in his veins. FP was saying the slider is one of the current best in the league–and a 95 mph FB to boot!

    Rizzo’s cook needs to feed Barrett a lot of red meat, and stuff with vinegar on it!!!!!!!!!!





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 Click here for past audio clips.

Follow us on Twitter