clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Dusty Baker on Nationals' reliever Blake Treinen: "I didn't like sinkerballers."

New, comments

"Any time you can throw one pitch and get two outs and get out of trouble that's a very, very valuable man," Dusty Baker said when he talked to reporters about the Washington Nationals' sinkerballing reliever Blake Treinen this week.

Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Forty-five pitches into his 2016 campaign, Washington Nationals' reliever Blake Treinen has been a two-pitch pitcher, using just his 94.2-96.7 mph sinker and 85-86 mph slider.

Is that part of the plan to simplify things on the mound for Treinen that new pitching coach Mike Maddux discussed earlier this season?

"We have simplified a little thought process," Maddux told reporters including Washington Post writer James Wagner earlier this month.

"Use your go-to's. Here’s how you protect your go-to's. Use both sides. Pitch with an attitude. And he’s really taken it out there, and he’s been pretty good. … Blake is a good person. A friendly guy and a kind guy, but doesn’t mean we all have fight in us. When you go out there, we’re going to war. I think he understands that."

"He's getting more and more confidence and we certainly can use that sinker late in the game," Dusty Baker said after the right-hander retired the Marlins in order in a nine-pitch, seven-strike frame on April 10th.

In his third outing in three days this past Tuesday night, Treinen came on in the bottom of the eighth inning of what was until then a scoreless game.

"He's getting more and more confidence and we certainly can use that sinker late in the game..." -Dusty Baker on Nationals' reliever Blake Treinen

Treinen replaced Oliver Perez on the mound with two on and one-out and gave up a base-loading single to the first batter he faced, then pulled an inning-ending double play grounder out of Jeff Francoeur with his sinker.

He struck out two in the ninth as well, before a two-out walk ended his outing. That runner came around to score, but it was an impressive outing nonetheless.

"This is why you like that sinkerballer on your staff," Baker said after the game.

"Cause they can throw that double play ground ball and you can get out of trouble -- any time you can throw one pitch and get two outs and get out of trouble that's a very, very valuable man."

The next afternoon, when he met with reporters Baker was asked how he, as a hitter, would attack Treinen's sinker.

At the risk of giving away oppo research, the 66-year-old former major leaguer did offer his thoughts about what makes a good sinker such an effective weapon.

"I didn't like sinkerballers," Baker said.

"I've only played with one guy, a right-handed hitter who really liked sinkerballers, that was Pedro Guerrero, which I really didn't understand it. I mean the ball is coming in on your hands, you're trying to keep it off the ground, cause you're going to hit the top of the ball, so I learned to hit sinkerballers.

"You try to hit them the other way -- because that's the only way you're going to hit the fatter part of the ball versus if you're trying to pull it you're over the top of the ball, so I tried to hit them that way and up the middle.

"And that's why sinkerballers tend to be pretty good fielding pitchers. Cause they have to be cause you're taught to hit the ball up the middle on them and if they field their position that makes it doubly tough. That sinker is tough.

"I remember I faced Pedro Borbon, man, he'd sink that ball in on me and I'd back off the plate, and back off the plate, and then I couldn't reach the slider on the outside and I'd get up on there and then he'd be running it back in on the hands again.

"That's a very tough pitch, especially if you have a slider, anything that you have to split the plate, you know, like you peel a banana?

"And most left-handers do have that, they'll throw that sinker on the outside and they'll throw the breaking ball on the inside to the right-handers, so if you can peel the banana and everything is going down and away, or down and in then you're going to keep the ball in the ballpark more than likely and you're going to throw a lot of ground balls."