Aaron Barrett is the Nats’ choice with runners in scoring position


(John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

If a pitcher could ever get used to entering the game with bases loaded, it would be right-hander Aaron Barrett.

The Houston Astros were in the middle of a four-run seventh inning Wednesday night when Barrett took the mound with bases loaded and two outs. Barrett’s fastball to the inside of the plate forced third baseman Matt Dominguez into a groundout and ended the Astros’ run, clearing the way for the Nationals’ offense to rally in the bottom of the inning and get the 6-5 win.

Barrett was the winning pitcher for his one-third of an inning.

“It’s not the situation we want to put anyone in – bases loaded with nowhere to put a guy,” Manager Matt Williams said. “He made some good pitches. He’s done that for us all year long – get him in a cleanup-type situation like that and he’s been able to deliver.”

Barrett has pitched more innings with runners in scoring position (11 2/3) than any other reliever on the active roster. He has the second-lowest ERA of bullpen pitchers in that situation (3.86). Right-hander Drew Storen has a 1.59 ERA in 5 2/3 innings pitching with runners in scoring position.

“There’s always going to be nerves,” Barrett said. “Every time I pitch there’s going to be nerves. It’s about embracing those nerves and harnessing those nerves and using the adrenaline to focus in to my task at hand, and that’s what I’ve been trying to do.”

Barrett entered Tuesday’s game against the Astros in a similar situation. Houston was on a four-run rally in the fourth, and Barrett was called on to squash it with a runner on second and two outs. Barrett’s slider forced right fielder George Springer to line out softly to center.

“We’ve matched him up against some really good right-handed hitters, and he’s done a good job,” Williams said. “He’ll continue to be ready to pitch and go out there and do the best he can. He’s done that a lot this year where he’s come in and gotten a crucial out for us.”

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Isabelle Khurshudyan covers high school sports for The Washington Post.
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