Nationals manager Dusty Baker said today that righty Blake Treinen will take the team’s closer role to open the season, as Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post was among those to report on Twitter. He won a camp battle with young righty Koda Glover, who’ll instead slide into a setup role for the time being.
There was quite a bit of intrigue all winter long surrounding the ninth inning for the Nats. The team pushed to re-sign Mark Melancon and made a run at Kenley Jansen in free agency, but came up just short on both players. That led to speculation that the organization might pursue a trade for a veteran such as David Robertson, but nothing ended up coming to fruition.
Treinen, 28, impressed last year with a 2.28 ERA over 67 innings. He continued to exhibit control problems, with 4.2 BB/9, and recorded only an 8.5 K/9 strikeout rate that falls in range of league average. But Treinen is also among the game’s best groundball pitchers; aided by a power sinker that sits in the 95 to 96 mph range, he induced worm burners on 65.9% of the balls put in play against him.