Contending teams take note: Barraclough’s on a roll

Miami Marlins relief pitcher Kyle Barraclough delivers during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the New York Mets, Saturday, June 30, 2018, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

MIAMI (AP) Marlins closer Kyle Barraclough was the National League’s best reliever in June, which makes him a trade target in July.

The hard-throwing right-hander was chosen NL reliever of the month, an honor that will assume a prominent place in his collection, partly because there’s little competition.

”I don’t really have many items on my trophy shelf,” Barraclough said Monday. ”A high school championship, maybe. I try not to pay much attention to individual awards. I like to win games.”

As the trade deadline approaches, Barraclough’s recent dominance makes him attractive to contending teams looking to shore up their bullpens. And with the Marlins in a rebuilding mode, they’ll listen to offers.

Barraclough allowed one hit in 36 at-bats in June, tossed 12 scoreless innings and converted all seven save chances while the Marlins went 14-14, their best month this season.

Barraclough began this week on a streak of 20 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings dating to May 8. He had a .085 batting average against for the season, lowest in the majors. His ERA of 0.99 was fourth-lowest.

He moved into the closer’s role a month ago for the first time in his career, and the change brought stability to a bullpen that had been one of Miami’s weakest areas.

”Kyle has been great,” manager Don Mattingly said. ”Getting that reliability back there has been really good for us.”

Barraclough has a fastball that clocks in the upper 90s, and in 2016-17 he averaged 12.3 strikeouts per nine innings. His whiffs are down slightly this year, but walks also are down thanks to improved command.

”Attacking the strike zone has been the big thing the last two months or so,” he said. ”Getting ahead of the hitters has put everyone on the defensive and allowed me to use my off-speed stuff.”

The result is more efficient outings. Barraclough’s pitch counts for his June saves, all requiring three outs, were 13, 11, 14, 14, 11, 10, 10.

”You don’t need to throw 25 pitches and strike everyone out,” he said. ”A groundout is just as good as a strikeout.”

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