Washington Nationals Editorial: Blake Treinen With A Lot To Prove In 2016


One of the storylines for the Washington Nationals bullpen this season will be Blake Treinen trying to rebound after a rough 2015 season.

It’s been an offseason of change for the Washington Nationals bullpen. Drew Storen was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays and the Nats have added new pitchers such as Shawn Kelley, Trevor Gott, Oliver Perez, and Yusmeiro Petit. It remains to be seen whether Jonathan Papelbon will be with the team when pitchers and catchers report to Viera, Florida on February 18.

While Papelbon will be the main storyline if he is still on the roster, one of the storylines to keep an eye on in terms of the bullpen will be Blake Treinen. With Storen gone, Treinen appears to have a spot locked up for the bullpen, but he is trying to rebound after a disappointing 2015.

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In 60 games last season, Treinen went 2-5 with a 3.86 ERA and had three blown saves. The 27-year-old right-hander had a 4.33 ERA in his last 29 appearances of the year and he struggled to be effective when facing left-handed hitters. In 2015, lefties hit .336 against him (three home runs) while righties hit a mere .187 (one home run).

The struggles against lefties were nothing new for Treinen. In 2014, lefties hit .337 against him in 98 at-bats. Due to these struggles, manager Matt Williams did not use Treinen in key situations last season. Instead, some of those opportunities went to rookie Felipe Rivero, who should be a candidate for the eighth inning role this season.

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When you look at Treinen’s 2015 season more closely, one of the things I noticed were that the average velocity on his fastball did increase from 94.8 miles per hour in 2014 to 96.3 in 2015 (according to Fangraphs). Plus, the usage of his slider doubled from 14.2% to 30.1%. Another problem for Treinen in 2015 was his control. While his strikeouts per nine innings went from 5.3 in ’14 to 8.6 in ’15, his walks per nine innings increased from 2.3 to 4.3. His 32 walks were the most of any relief pitcher on the team.

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Even though I don’t think Treinen’s spot on the 25-man roster is in jeopardy, it will be interesting to see what the Nationals decide to do if he has a bad spring training and if non-roster invitees Sean Burnett and/or Nick Masset end up making a good impression on the coaching staff. Treinen has shown a lot of potential over his short career, but if he could put it all together in 2016, he could be a major key for Dusty Baker’s bullpen in 2016.