The pair of prospective closers for the Washington Nationals chatted with the press Wednesday. They are ready for what lies ahead.
In what will be the most interesting battle of Spring Training for the Nats, the pitchers talked with the press Wednesday in West Palm Beach. Both are eager to show what they have.
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Asked if he was too nice for the role, Treinen responded:
"“People joke about that, that I’m too much of a nice guy. I think the idea is I’m not going to change who I am. I was raised how I am. My morals direct me the way that I am. But when I’m between the lines, I still know how to compete. There’s some dog in me. I don’t really listen to what people have to say about that.”"
At 28, Treinen has one career save in his three years with Washington. In the minors, he recorded two in A-ball with the Oakland Athletics system, but was never a pitcher to finish games. After his trade to the Nationals, Washington converted him to a starter before putting him back to the pen with the big club.
Featuring a devastating sinker, Treinen induces ground balls with abandon. Yet, his 4.2 BB/9 rate last year is a concern, especially in one run games.
Meanwhile, conventional wisdom has Kelley the favorite going in. Again, there is cause for concern.
At 32, he has undergone two rounds of Tommy John surgery and tweaked his elbow again during the NLDS against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
When asked about those concerns, Kelley said to MLB.com’s Jamal Collier and others:
"“To be honest, I think in the closing role, you can actually take better care of your arm. Because you kind of know leading up to that when you’re going to pitch and when you’re not going to pitch. You actually minimize some of the proverbial dry humps, where you have to get going and then you don’t get in.”"
Kelley is right that his warmup time will drop. Unless they have the lead, Dusty Baker will not lean on him to get loose, unless the situation warrants. The concern with him is back-to-back usage and any effort requiring over three outs. Although he pitched 67 games last year, he averaged under an inning an appearance, topping at 58 for the season.
Yet, his statistics are in line with what you expect from a closer. Kelley fanned 80 last year. His WHIP was 0.897. In those 58 frames, he walked 11. He bridged the gap between Jonathan Papelbon losing the job and the arrival of Mark Melancon.
One of these two likely leaves Florida with the job. However, watch to see how Sammy Solis, Koda Glover and non-roster invitee Joe Nathan are used. In the truest sense of the word, they are wild cards.
If you are one to sort through the proverbial tea leaves, the confidence shown by Treinen and Kelley calms those nerves. Now it is time to see how they perform.