We continue to let our topics of discussion be dictated by “The Wheel”. Today the wheel has decided that it’s time to talk about former Oakland A’s closer, Blake Treinen, and his fit with the Seattle Mariners.
Remember when Edwin Diaz was unhittable? When he would strut to the mound in the ninth and you knew the game was over? Well that season, the Oakland A’s had their own Edwin Diaz and his name is Blake Treinen. But as relievers tend to do, Treinen couldn’t sustain his success and after a disasterous 2019 season in Oakland, Treinen found himself non-tendered and looking for a landing spot to right the ship. For a brief moment, it appeared the Mariners could be that team, but Treinen ultimately chose the Los Angeles Dodgers on a 1-year, $10 million contract.
While Treinen didn’t get back to his 2018 self, which was never realistic, he did bounce back enough to show that there is a reasonable floor to go along with his high ceiling. Treinen appeared in 27 games, throwing 25.2 innings while posting a 3.86 ERA, a 3.15 FIP, a 1.21 WHIP, and 22 strikeouts. Treinen was actually better than his numbers may indicate. A rough 4 game stretch at the end of the season ballooned his numbers some as he posted a 2.42 ERA in his first 22.2 innings.
Treinen is a sinker/slider pitcher and he doesn’t lack any velocity. His sinker averaged 96.9 MPH in 2020 and his slider actually generated 35.8% whiff rate. But Treinen’s sinker, which he throws 56% of the time, only generates an 11% whiff rate. The Mariners tend to target pitchers with high fastball spin rates, which is not a forte of Treinen’s, who ranks in the 54th percentile in fastball spin rate.
A high spin rate is a requirement for a Mariners reliever, but it is a trend that is hard to ignore. However, Treinen is experienced in the back end of a bullpen, something Jerry Dipoto has told everybody who would listen that he was targeting such arms. Not only is he experienced, but Treinen has a higher upside than most relievers on this market. If the Mariners can get 80% of 2018 Treinen, not only will they have an All-Star level reliever, but they may have their lock down closer.
Treinen makes a lot of sense for Seattle but he makes a lot of sense for multiple teams. His upside, decent floor, and the likelihood of only requiring a 1-year contract are going to make him attractive to rebuilding and contending teams alike. If Treinen wants a shot to close games, Seattle may be one of his only options.