The Nationals bullpen did their job Tuesday night, putting up three scoreless and hitless innings against the Cubs in a 6-1 win.
Manager Dusty Baker assessed Treinen’s scoreless eighth inning in which he struck out Javier Báez and collected a pair of outfield flyouts from pinch-hitter Addison Russell and Jeimer Candelario.
“It starts with one, then you build from there,” Baker said. “You know Blake has the stuff. It’s just a matter of him finding the strike zone. When he loses it now he can come back and find the strike zone.
“When you’re throwing 97, 98 mph, the sinker and the slider and throws mostly groundballs. He was going through a rough stretch there where a lot of those groundballs were finding holes. It was good to bring Blake back-to-back. Enny (Romero) did a great job. Everybody in the bullpen did their jobs today.”
Romero took care of the seventh. Peréz and Albers combined for a scoreless ninth.
Treinen said getting behind hitters was one reason he started off slowly this season.
“I think early on, for the first three weeks or so, it was self-inflicted, not getting ahead of guys. There were some adjustments made where the results didn’t reflect maybe the way I was throwing. A couple hard hit balls after a few tough breaks can put a dent on things. There’s still walks mixed in there and those never help you. So there’s some tough luck, but there’s still some self-inflicted issues.”
Treinen hopes that the bullpen can find some consistency because he has seen some signs of promise.
“I think over the course of the last month and a half, things are really starting to show itself,” Treinen said. “Like we all talked about, there’s waves in baseball. And so, I think you’re going to start even yourself out a little bit. Guys are starting to throw a lot better like how we expect them too. Tonight was a great team effort. Top to bottom, our offense is going to produce so we just try to do our job and hold it down.”
As Baker noted, Treinen now has a pair of solid outings in a row to build off of. He has allowed one earned run in his last five appearances.
Was there something mechanically he did to try to get back to where he was when he was getting guys out?
“I think you think about maybe I need to adjust because guys are maybe adjusting against me but it came back to sticking with what works,” Treinen said. “Because it was not that I was getting hit hard, I was walking guys, giving up a groundball through the hole, giving up a missile or something. I don’t know. I thought I threw a good pitch to Russell tonight and he did a better job at getting it.
“So that’s just baseball. They’re big league hitters. We can make good pitches and they can still rip it. Yeah, just a combination of things,” Trienen added. “Right now, it’s good to have a couple of good outings under my belt. I’m sure a lot of guys feel the same way. Just continue to move forward.”
Maybe closer isn’t the be-all-end-all role for Treinen right now. But if he can control that lethal power sinker, there are plenty of places the Nats can use him in the seventh or eighth innings.