Dodgers: Recounting Blake Treinen’s winding path to LA
Life after the trade: Treinen’s breakout 2018 campaign
After the trade, Treinen found a way to turn his season around once he arrived in Oakland. In 35 games with his new team, Treinen became the closer, saving 13 games with a career-high 9.95 K/9 and a 2.13 ERA. His velocity on his signature sinker was up to 97.8 mph, another career-best mark.
All signs pointed to a major turnaround for Treinen, and his 2018 season proved to be by far the best of his career.
The fateful 2018 season saw Treinen’s sinker liven up to 98mph, but that certainly was not the only career-high the Kansas-native saw that year. Treinen pitched in 80.1 innings, his most in the major leagues and his most as a professional since his 2014 stint as a starter. In those innings, Treinen set a career-high in saves (38), K/9 (11.2), and in FIP (1.82).
His walk rate and HR/FB dropped back down to near their 2014 levels, and his ERA plummetted to an elite 0.78. His ERA was the lowest in the MLB amongst qualified relievers, and his WAR (3.6) led all qualified relievers as well.
This was Treinen’s year. This was the season where all of the potential the A’s saw in him after the Doolittle trade was being realized, as he even out-performed Doolittle. Treinen never really even had a cold stretch. He had sub-1.00 ERA’s in the first and second halves of the season. Across the entire season (six months) Treinen allowed one earned run or less in a month four times. In his 32.1 second-half innings, the newly-dubbed star reliever only allowed five walks.
All of the statistics and certainly the majority of analysts saw Treinen’s breakout campaign as a sign of future success. How could a pitcher this dominate fall out of the spotlight? At the end of the 2018 season, Treinen was 30 years old, still well within his physical prime, without any major injuries to his name during his MLB career. He had successfully navigated the whirlwind of success that he’d seen in 2018 and was ready to regroup with a strong 2019 Athletics club primed to make another run at a Wild Card slot, but in classic Treinen fashion, the most likely result failed to come to pass…