Treinen still winless, but that doesn't tell the whole story

ST. LOUIS - In case you missed it, Gio Gonzalez went four innings at high Single-A Potomac last night, allowing one run on two hits with four walks and seven strikeouts in his second rehab start as the left-hander works back from left shoulder inflammation.

Scheduled to throw five innings and around 80 pitches, Gonzalez tossed 79 pitches in four frames, and while the walks weren't ideal and he didn't work as deep into the game as he or the Nationals would have liked, Gonzalez will almost certainly slide back into the Nats rotation Wednesday against the Astros. We'll get official word from manager Matt Williams today on that front.

Assuming Gonzalez is activated next week, that will mean Blake Treinen will be shipped back to Triple-A Syracuse after this latest stint with the big club.

Treinen has now appeared in eight games with the Nats this season, four of which have been starts. In those four outings, he's worked at least five innings and allowed two runs or fewer each time.

He sports a strong 2.08 ERA as a big leaguer, yet Treinen is still looking for his first major league win.

In those four starts, the Nats have scored a total of eight runs. Yes, Treinen hasn't dominated an opponent to this point, he's allowed eight walks to just nine strikeouts in 21 2/3 innings as a starter and he's yet to work into the seventh inning. But the 25-year-old has still pitched pretty darn well, all things considered.

"He's been doing anything we've asked him to do, whether it's one inning out of the bullpen, multiple innings out of the bullpen, starting," Williams said after yesterday's outing, in which Treinen allowed two runs over five innings in a loss to the Giants. "I still feel like he's a young starter. Changeup is developing, breaking ball is developing, he's got a good sinker. So for him to get deeper and deeper into games is important, but I think he's done well."

In yesterday's outing, Treinen's level of inexperience and his potential both showed through.

The righty had trouble spotting his fastball early, and his breaking pitches didn't seem to do much to fool Giants hitters in the early frames. He allowed a single and a triple to the first two hitters in the second, leading to two San Francisco runs, and then surrendered a leadoff single and back-to-back walks to open the fourth.

But then, Treinen locked in and showed why scouts are so high on him. He got Ehire Adrianza to strike out swinging for the first out of the inning, then induced a 4-6-3 double play off the bat of Tim Hudson. Just like that, Treinen was out of a huge jam.

"Power sinker will do that," Williams said. "That's his go-to pitch. It's mid-90s and sinking, and he's one pitch away from a double-play ball all the time. So that's good for him, and that's one of his weapons that he can use. The development of the other pitches is key for him too, though."

Sometime in the next few days (possibly as early as today, if the Nats decide to add an extra reliever until Gonzalez returns for his next start), Treinen will be optioned back to Triple-A, but he shouldn't let that frustrate him. He did his job while up with the Nationals on this stint, giving them a shot to win every time out, even against some tough teams, like the Dodgers, Pirates and Giants.

"He kept us in the game," Kevin Frandsen said. "So that's all you could ever ask for. And with his stuff, at some point, it will take off and things will be great."

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