Now that he is the Washington Nationals closer, Blake Treinen is the most important reliever on the Nats this season.
There is less than a week to go until Opening Day and the Washington Nationals still haven’t announced a closer just yet. However, Jon Heyman of Fanrag Sports wrote last Friday that it appears the job might go to Koda Glover. With Shawn Kelley out of the running, the other candidate besides Glover is Blake Treinen.
Treinen has had a good spring for the Nats. While he has only appeared in five Major League games, he has not given up a run, has given up only one hit, and has struck out eight in 4.2 innings. Spring stats aren’t the end all be all, but those are some dominant numbers.
While Glover is likely going to be the closer and the Nats have given him plenty of chances to win that job, Treinen is the most important reliever because the Nats need that pitcher that can be the bridge to the closer.
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As the season went on last year, manager Dusty Baker and pitching coach Mike Maddux put Treinen in more high leverage situations and the 28-year-old right-hander delivered. The walks were high last year, but he did have a 1.56 ERA in the seventh inning a season ago.
When you watch these games on MASN and they interview the other pitchers, everybody in the bullpen talks about the great stuff Treinen has. He has the ability to get the groundball out whenever he needs it. Last season, his 17 ground ball outs were six more than any other reliever in the National League.
If you want to look at who was the most improved reliever last season, Treinen is that guy. In 2016, left-handed hitters hit .221 against him with three home runs. That’s an improvement when you consider that in 2015, lefties hit .336 and had an on-base percentage of .425.
Now, Glover has earned the job if he ends up getting it and he has the mentality that you want in a closer. However, if the right-hander has a bad month or so, Treinen should be the next one that gets the opportunity. Down the stretch last season, he had a 0.82 ERA in September and averaged a strikeout per inning (12 K’s).
Plus, if you want to look at Treinen’s mentality, he has shown an ability to shake off a bad game. The only time where he gave up runs in back-to-back appearances last year was the NLDS against the Los Angels Dodgers (games 4 and 5).
The closer is a very important role in any team’s bullpen, but the Washington Nationals have an improving reliever in Treinen who could become a strong setup man in 2017 if his development continues in the right direction.
Without Treinen in the eighth, then Glover might not get as many save opportunities. That alone makes him the most important reliever for the team in 2017.