Following a less-than-impressive outing against the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday in the nation’s capital, Washington Nationals’ closer Blake Treinen had a 6.00 ERA, a 4.74 FIP, four walks (6.00 BB/9), seven Ks (10.50 K/9) and a .320/.414/.480 line against in six innings of work this season.
In the finale with the Phillies, the 28-year-old right-hander, (named the Nationals’ closer at the end of Spring Training, following a winter of fruitless pursuits of a few high-end closers via free agency and trade), gave up a leadoff double, a run on a close play at home, a two-out single and a walk before he was lifted 30 pitches into the inning with the Nationals trailing, 4-3 in the ninth.
“I think it’s more concentration and trying too hard more than anything,” Nationals’ manager Dusty Baker told reporters when asked about Treinen’s struggles following what ended up a 6-4 win.
“I think he has confidence, it’s just when you throw that sinker, his ball runs in and out of the zone, which is his strong suit and I have been talking to him about throwing some four-seamers that he can control. He’s still learning. I’m hoping he’s a quick learner.”
Baker sent Treinen out with a 3-0 lead in Atlanta’s SunTrust Park on Tuesday night, and it just got worse.
Freddie Freeman singled to right. Brandon Phillips hit a one-out single. Tyler Flowers walked to load the bases for the Braves with two down and Treinen issued a second walk, putting Kurt Suzuki on to force in a run and make it a 3-1 game.
Treinen was 16 pitches into the inning, with just six of them strikes before Baker walked to the mound and took the ball, bringing on Shawn Kelley, who locked down the 3-1 win (in spite of a controversial call on a strike three/foul tip call).
That might have been the tipping point for Baker.
“We’ve got to do something to shore up our closer situation,” he told reporters after the win, “because — I don’t know, this ain’t working.”
“We’ve just got to go back to the drawing board and see, because you hate — Treinen has outstanding stuff, but you hate to see a guy like [Max] Scherzer tonight,  pitches worth of quality, and you see it kind of go by the wayside in five minutes, you know what I mean? We’ve just got to remain confident and just go back to the drawing board.”
Baker was asked if it was the walks that were the problem. He said it was the walks and the hard contact Treinen has been giving up.
“Walks and guys that are not supposed to be hitting him that hard are hitting him. Like in Philadelphia, [Cameron Rupp] hit him off the wall and just — I don’t know, we’ve just got to talk about it.”
• We talked about the Nationals’ win, the closer situation and that horrid umpiring in Atlanta on Nats Nightly after the game:
AUDIO: Angriest episode of #Nats Nightly after a win ever. #Nationals 3-1 over #Braves; CB Bucknor; Treinen + more: https://t.co/rDoJWy1nUh— federalbaseball (@federalbaseball) April 19, 2017