Nationals will use Blake Treinen out of bullpen after start washed out

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Right-hander Blake Treinen was scheduled to start tonight's game before it was canceled due to inclement weather in the nation's capital. The 25-year-old pitcher will reportedly work out of the Nationals' bullpen for the next few days so the other starters can stay on their schedules.

In his second major league start last week in Pittsburgh, PA's PNC Park, 25-year-old Washington Nationals' right-hander Blake Treinen gave up four hits, five walks and two earned runs in 5 2/3 IP, over which he threw 102 pitches in what ended up a 3-1 loss to the Pirates.

Treinen walked two with two down around a single in the third inning that night, loading the bases for and then hitting Andrew McCutchen with a first-pitch breaking ball inside that got away from him and forced in the first run of the game.

"It's nice to see him go out there and compete. And we took him to 100 pitches and he was fine." - Matt Williams on Blake Treinen's second start

Another walk in the fifth led to the Pirates' second run. Treinen put Pirates' outfielder Josh Harrison on and gave up an RBI single by McCutchen that broke up a 1-1 tie.

A two-out walk and single in the sixth ended Treinen's night.

"It was good," Williams said of Treinen's emergency start in place of injured lefty Gio Gonzalez, who was placed on the 15-Day DL last week with left shoulder inflammation.

"It's nice to see him go out there and compete," Williams said after Treinen's loss to the Pirates. "And we took him to 100 pitches and he was fine. He threw some good breaking balls and gave us a chance. We just didn't have enough offense tonight to get it done, but he pitched really well."

Treinen's velocity dropped noticeably late in the outing, but Williams told reporters then it was just part of the learning process for the first-year starter, who has thrown just 30 1/3 IP so far this season, some out of the bullpen and some as a starter in the majors and as a starter in the minors with the Nats' Triple-A affiliate.

"He's still building. He's still learning how to do this. But from everything we've seen, it's been really good and he's able to go out there and compete at the big league level..." -Matt Williams on Blake Treinen in the majors

"It's part of the process," Williams explained. "He's still building. He's still learning how to do this. But from everything we've seen, it's been really good and he's able to go out there and compete at the big league level and give us a chance to win, so that's all we ask for."

Treinen spent most of his first season in the Nationals' organization at Double-A Harrisburg, going (6-7) with a 3.64 ERA, 3.67 FIP, 33 walks (2.50 BB/9) and 86 Ks (6.52 K/9) in 21 games, 20 starts and 118 2/3 IP for the Senators.

As a non-roster invitee at Spring Training this year, Treinen impressed the Nationals' manager and ended up battling for a spot in the Opening Day bullpen. Williams noted at the time, however, that as a pitcher the right-hander was still relatively inexperienced.

"He's working on his secondary pitches, of course," the first-year skipper told reporters.

"Especially his breaking ball, he's working on. But as a pitcher he's very young. He's still feeling his way through that, but it's electric stuff. It's out of the hand really nice."

Treinen didn't make the Nationals' Opening Day roster, but he was called up to make his major league debut in the second week of April and after returning to the Nats' top affiliate to resume starting, was brought back to make a spot start against the Los Angeles Dodgers earlier this month.

Williams talked about Treinen's development as a starter again today, before Treinen's planned outing against the Miami Marlins was washed out by inclement weather in the area around Nationals Park.

An Oakland A's 2011 7th Round pick out of South Dakota State University, Treinen was pitching as a 24-year-old at High Class-A in the Athletics' system in 2012 before he was traded to the Nationals in the spring of 2013.

After moving back and forth between starting and relieving roles in the minors and early this year, Williams said, he's still learning about pacing himself and figuring out how best to use his stuff over the course of a start.

"I think that later in the game, in the later innings, at 93 [mph] or 92 or whatever it is, his ball probably sinks more..." - Matt Williams on Treinen making the best use of his stuff

"He goes out there with this mindset of being a starting pitcher now," Williams explained, "and it takes time to learn that. It takes time for him to learn where he can set at and pitch effectively. So does he go out in the first inning and just throw 97 [mph] because that's the way he does it? Probably.

"But at some point during his career he's going to learn that he can go out there and set at 94 [mph] and maintain 94 throughout the game. He's a young pitcher. That happens. So, I would say this though, I think that later in the game, in the later innings, at 93 or 92 or whatever it is, his ball probably sinks more, so that's probably an advantage that he has."

In five games, two starts and 17 1/3 IP in the majors for the Nationals this year, Treinen is (0-2) after taking the loss in Pittsburgh, with a 1.56 ERA, a 2.94 FIP, seven walks (3.63 BB/9) and 13 Ks (6.75 K/9).

Williams said today that Treinen will be available out of the pen for the next couple days with Jordan Zimmermann going on regular rest tomorrow and everyone else remaining on schedule.

"'We will stay on our normal rotation from tomorrow on,'" Williams informed reporters, including MASNSports.com's Byron Kerr.

"'Blake getting his feet wet here, and he has got experience in the bullpen so we can do that for the next couple of days until his turn comes up again.'"

Treinen's next turn will come up on June 3rd when the Nationals host the Philadelphia Phillies for the first game of a three-game set in D.C. That's right about the time Gio Gonzalez will be eligible to return from the disabled list.

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