Acquired from the Oakland A's along with LHP Ian Krol and RHP A.J. Cole in the three-team deal that sent Michael Morse to the Seattle Mariners last winter, Blake Treinen, 25, was a 2011 7th Round pick by the Athletics out of South Dakota State University. Treinen spent his last year with the A's at High-A Stockton, where he was (7-7) with a 4.37 ERA, 4.20 FIP, 23 walks (2.01 BB/9) and 92 Ks (8.04 K/9) in 24 games, 15 of them starts, and 103 innings pitched.
The 6'5'' right-hander spent the majority of his 2013 campaign (all but two of twenty-three appearances) at Double-A Harrisburg in the Nationals' system, where he was (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.
In Spring Training with the Nats as a non-roster invitee, Treinen impressed first-year skipper Matt Williams. One of two relievers who surprised most by battling for the final spot in the Opening Day bullpen along with Aaron Barrett, Treinen, Williams said, was a "young" pitcher with a lot to learn but tremendous talent.
"He's working on his secondary pitches, of course," Williams said, "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 put up a 4.66 ERA in six games and 9 2/3 IP in Grapefruit League action, allowing 15 hits, three walks and seven runs, five earned, while striking out nine. He was one of the last cuts this spring, but Williams let the right-hander know then that he was part of the Nationals' plans.
"He's just an exceptional young man," Williams told reporters.
"We let him know that he is our 'next wave,' if you will," he continued. "And he proved everything he had to prove this spring to us. We're all certainly pleasantly surprised with his progress and the way he threw the baseball."
The Nationals wanted Treinen to get stretched out as a starter, but Williams was clear that whatever the role, he convinced the Nats he could compete at any level.
"His stuff plays," Williams said. "His stuff plays at any point later in the game. It's a bowling ball at 97 [mph]. So that's all good. Again, we have some depth certainly in the starting roles, so he may be able to help us in the bullpen."
Treinen was called up to make his major league debut in the second week of April when a beleaguered Nats' 'pen needed a fresh arm. Williams liked what he saw in Treinen's first appearance, as he completed two scoreless against the Braves. "He threw the ball hard," Williams said. "Went right after them. So it was good."
In three appearances out of the bullpen, he posted a 1.35 ERA, with a 1.92 FIP, two walks (2.70 BB/9) and seven Ks (9.45 K/9) in 6 2/3 IP. In four starts at Triple-A Syracuse so far this year, Treinen has put up a 1.59 ERA, a 3.70 FIP, five walks (3.97 BB/9) and nine Ks (7.15 K/9) in 11 1/3 IP.
After last night's game with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Williams told reporters that Treinen would get the call up to the majors again to start the second game of the three-game set with LA. In spite of the fact that the Nationals needed five relievers to get through last night's rain-interrupted game, they were able to save both Ross Detwiler and Craig Stammen in case they were needed in relief.
"'That's how you plan it,'" Williams told reporters including CSNWashington.com's Chase Hughes. "'It doesn't always go to plan, but tonight that's the way we planned it.'"
"'Blake's been starting, he's been in that regular rotation,'" Williams continued. "'We certainly wanted to stay away from Stammen and [Detwiler] the last couple of days. We had the opportunity to do that, so we have some length, but Blake's going to start it for us.'"
The Nationals have Doug Fister scheduled for Friday's start, so it will likely be another brief stay for Treinen, but he's taken advantage of the opportunities he's been given to impress the Nats and he'll get another chance to do so tonight.