Had the bullpen finished Tuesday what he so expertly started, Jaime Barria would have spent Wednesday in one of the strangest places in baseball:
Leading the Angels in victories and playing for the Salt Lake Bees.
The rookie was optioned back to triple A despite another strong start against Houston.
He left after seven splendid innings and with the Angels leading, 3-1. Reliever Jose Alvarez then gave up three runs in what became a 5-3 loss.
The development cost Barria his fourth win, which would have tied Garrett Richards for tops on the team.
Barria was sent down because the Angels won’t need an extra starter until on their next trip. Reliever Eduardo Paredes was recalled Wednesday to take his roster spot.
“It’s tough,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “I don’t think anyone when they’re performing well would expect it. But there’s a difference in getting to the big leagues and then making footprints in the big leagues.
“Right now, Jaime is obviously starting to make some footprints. But he’s not quite there yet. There are a lot of things that are out of his control.”
Only 21, Barria remains the sixth starter on a team that has been gathering quality starts of late. Four of his five starts for the Angels have been notably good.
Barria’s 2.13 ERA and 1.026 walks-plus-hits per inning pitched (WHIP) are best among the starters. Only Shohei Ohtani has held the opposition to a lower batting average among Angels pitchers who have appeared in more than one game.
Mike Trout became the third player to hit leadoff for the Angels on Tuesday, joining Ian Kinsler and Zack Cozart. Trout also hit first Wednesday.
The players who haven’t been tried in that spot include the one who leads the team in hits and is second in on-base percentage.
Andrelton Simmons and his .342 average (entering Wednesday) have been moved no higher in the order than fifth.
“He’s doing a great job and comfortable hitting with the grouping he’s in now with some guys on base,” Scioscia said, all indications being that Simmons will stay put for now.