The Nationals called up Blake Treinen from Class AAA Syracuse on Saturday because the bullpen needed a fresh arm after a busy week. So it was only expected that Treinen made it into the game; it was his day to throw anyway.
After Taylor Jordan struggled through five innings, Manager Matt Williams threw the 25-year-old Treinen into his first major league game. The 6-foot-5, 215-pound right-handed jogged in from the left field bullpen and picked up the ball lying on the Turner Field mound for the first time in his life. He was nervous and excited all at once, but hid it well.
His first four pitches blazed by at 97 miles per hour. After that, he settled in and his fastball sat between 94 and 95 mph. He relied primarily on his hard sinking fastball to fire two scoreless innings. He faced eight hitters and allowed only two hits. After he fanned Chris Johnson for his first major league strikeout in the sixth, the ball was tossed into the dugout for a keepsake.
“I was glad I was able to get a couple zeroes and some outs and do what I was called up here to do: eat some innings and help save our bullpen,” Treinen said. “Felt good. Kinda at a loss for words. I was fun to be up here and to be at this level.”
Treinen began the season at Syracuse as a starter. He pitched in relief during spring training and wowed team officials with his high 90’s stuff, slurve and maturity. He was one of three players acquired from Oakland before the 2013 season in the Michael Morse trade. On Saturday, he fired only four breaking balls, leaning heavily on his best pitch, his fastball.
“As I gain more experience obviously I’ll be able to throw more offspeed pitches,” he said. Added Williams: “He threw the ball hard. Went right after them. So it was good.”
When the bullpen phone rang and Treinen was told to warm up, he said he wasn’t jumpy. He had a feeling he would pitch on Saturday because the Nationals needed innings and he last threw on Monday, so he was ready.
When he returned to the clubhouse after the game, Treinen had a flood of texts messages and calls of congratulations from friends and family. He was appreciative of all the support but admitted “it’s going to be hard to get back to everybody.” After hearing the news of his call-up late Friday, his brother and father arrived from Kansas in time to see Treinen. They sat in the bleachers near the bullpen and grabbed photos of Treinen.
After a late-night call-up, an early morning flight and his first two major league innings, Treinen couldn’t help but smile. “It was definitely an experience I won’t forget,” he said.