If there were a reliever that could win the most improved player of the year award on the Washington Nationals last year, that pitcher would be Treinen. This offseason, he goes from an option in the sixth or seventh inning to a closer candidate.
One of the stats that Treinen improved on the most was his splits against left-handed hitters. In the 2016 season, lefties hit .221 against the 28-year-old right-hander. That is a drastic difference compared to the .336 average the lefties had against him in 2015 (three home runs in each year).
As the season went on last year, Dusty Baker and pitching coach Mike Maddux put Treinen in more high leverage situations. You can tell that the trust in him to get the key outs continued to grow.
Treinen does need to work on his control when you consider he has walked four batters per nine innings each of the last two seasons. With that being said, he does a great job of getting the double plays when he needs them. He has had a combined 31 groundouts into double plays over the last two years.
Whether he becomes the closer or not this season, Treinen should see a lot of time in the later innings in 2017. They could name Shawn Kelley the closer and use Treinen in the eighth inning. Plus, if Kelley were to falter early and Treinen were to succeed in the eighth, it wouldn’t surprise anyone if they swapped the roles for those two pitchers.