© Sarah Morris, 2020
When Dodger President Andrew Friedman signed journeyman right-handed reliever Blake Treinen to a one-year $10 million contract in December 2019, most people who followed the Dodgers wanted to ignore the signing. However, without Treinen, the Dodgers probably would not have won the 2020 world championship.
Treinen pitched for the Washington Nationals and Oakland Athletics before coming to the Dodgers. At times during his 8-year Major-League career, he was brilliant, but at other times, he was ineffective.
Treinen has a terrific one-seam fastball, which acts like a two-seam fastball or sinker. His velocity on the sinker is 98-miles-per-hour. To complement his devasting sinker, which caused many opponents to swing and miss, Treinen has a slider and four-seam fastball, a rising fastball. His slider has a sharp horizontal break. Keeping his pitches low in the strike zone is a key to success for Treinen. Nevertheless, throwing an occasional rising fastball to change the hitters’ eye level is usually successful, resulting in a strikeout.
In 2020, using a pitcher’s statistics to analyze his performance is unfair. One poor performance over an abbreviated 60-game season artificially ballooned a pitcher’s ERA. Treinen usually had clean innings, but twice, he had bad outings, resulting in a 3.86 ERA. He had 22 strikeouts compared to 15 walks. In many outings, Treinen enabled the Dodgers to wiggle out of jams without a run-scoring.
Before the 2020 season, the Dodger bullpen was a serious weakness, causing many postseason disappointments. Despite Treinen’s meltdown during Game 1 of the NLCS against the Atlanta Braves, he had pitched well throughout the 2020 season.
Although most Major-League teams will want Treinen to improve their bullpen, the Dodgers must re-sign Treinen, particularly when Kenley Jansen, who is under contract until at the end of the 2021 season, is uncertain if he can return to his closing role. President Friedman should not give Treinen a long-term contract. It is nearly impossible to predict how a reliever will do.