When the Los Angeles Dodgers signed Blake Treinen to a one-year extension last season in the midst of his rehab from a shoulder injury, their attempt to get ahead on an investment quickly went south when the right-hander was unable to make his way back.
To make matters worse, the surgery that he opted to forgo a couple months into the 2022 season ended up being necessary a few weeks after the Dodgers were eliminated from the playoffs. The typical 10-month recovery period quickly turned a wasted $8 million into a wasted $16 million (the Dodgers picked up Treinen's $8 million team option for 2023 and then tacked on another team option for 2024 when they restructured his deal).
All hope may not be lost, though. A month ago, Treinen said that he felt "ahead of schedule" after undergoing surgery. Dodgers fans took that with a grain of salt because the right-hander had already gotten himself into this mess.
But it turns out he might be onto something. On Friday, it was revealed Treinen had been cleared to begin a throwing program and will start playing catch this coming Monday. That feels like a fast turnaround after his procedure on November 11, doesn't it?
Treinen's return wouldn't exactly reinvigorate the Dodgers' 2023 season (especially since the bullpen needs a lot more help than just him), but what if they have a fresh version of the veteran for the second half? That'd be pretty darn good, wouldn't it?
Dodgers' Blake Treinen cleared to begin throwing program
The Dodgers' stacked bullpen heading into 2022 turned to dust in short order. Treinen went down. Craig Kimbrel was a disaster. Phil Bickford and Justin Bruihl regressed. Tommy Kahnle only pitched 12.2 innings. Brusdar Graterol couldn't stay healthy for the whole year again.
But even with all that, many would argue the Dodgers could've gotten by if Treinen stayed healthy or was able to make his way back for the final couple months. He was emerging as Kenley Jansen's replacement the previous two seasons with his usage in the 2020 postseason and then his 1.99 ERA and 0.98 WHIP in 72 games in 2021.
Looking at the Dodgers' bullpen right now, the unit could use any and all help at any point in time this coming season. They have far too many health- and performance-based question marks.
Most fans already ruled out any meaningful contributions from Treinen in order to focus on what the team realisitically had at its disposal and to avoid gassing themselves up with false hope, much like what happened last year.
We'd say continue with that approach, but keep in the back of your mind that a Treinen addition could be a surprise bonus on top of whatever Andrew Friedman and the front office decide to do at this year's trade deadline once the pitching staff comes into focus.