Sarris: How A’s closer Blake Treinen is riding a new pitch to new heights

From SABR member Eno Sarris at The Athletic on August 2, 2018:

The​ conventional wisdom​ is that relievers end up in​ the​ bullpen because they​ have fewer​ pitches they can​ command,​ so​​ they can’t turn over the lineup multiple times. And certainly there are more two-pitch pitchers in the ‘pen and they almost never see a batter multiple times. But as our definition of “starter” and “reliever” is changing, so, too, should our truisms, maybe.

Take A’s closer Blake Treinen. He’s thrown a changeup some, but he’s been wicked with mostly a fastball and a slider for some time. And he’s even more wicked recently now that he’s added a new pitch. Check it out.


You can’t argue with the results. Right now, Treinen is showing the best whiff rate, strikeout rate, strikeout-minus-walk rate, homer rate, and ERA of his career.

The cutter/slider pairing is one of the rarest in baseball, though. Perhaps it’s because there’s the idea that the two pitches can blend together. Zack Greinke once felt that throwing the cutter didn’t help his slider.

“That might have messed with the slider,” the then-Dodgers pitcher told me in 2014. “Whenever you throw two similar pitches, they end up meshing.”

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Originally published: August 2, 2018. Last Updated: August 2, 2018.