On December 20th, we knew that the Washington Nationals were not going to acquire Mark Melancon, Aroldis Chapman or Kenley Jansen. It was looking more like Mike Rizzo and Dusty Baker were going to turn to an in-house candidate. The pool of internal candidates were a choice of Sammy Solis, Koda Glover, Shawn Kelley, and Blake Treinen. The direction we went with on December 20th was Blake Treinen as our pick based on his progress in 2016 and the underlying metrics, and we wrote this article.
The closer job seemed like a try-out for Treinen. Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo went on the radio this morning and said that there was a consensus among the decision makers in choosing Blake Treinen as the closer for Opening Day. But, there was certainly a disconnect from what we heard from sources is that Dusty Baker wanted Koda Glover.
That was then and this is now, and being a closer is all about confidence in your ‘stuff’. Actually, being a good baseball player is all about confidence as the game is 90% mental according to Yogi Berra, and the other half is physical.
If you look at Jonathan Papelbon, his velocity had diminished with the grind and all the years accumulated on his arm. The odometer takes its toll on a pitcher’s arm. What pitchers like Papelbon and Joe Nathan have is confidence and a steady heartbeat. They can still make the ball dance. Last night, Mark Melancon gave up 2 singles while his team clinged onto a one run lead. Melancon didn’t panic. He got the 3rd out before a run scored and he recorded a save. Because he was calm, his team didn’t make any mistakes. On Sunday, Treinen induced a groundball right to Daniel Murphy and he threw home and Matt Wieters dropped the relay throw allowing a go-ahead run. Panic spreads.
Blake Treinen lost his confidence and lost his way. It’s unfortunate. Some would say he succumbed to the intense pressure. Whatever it is, a change is needed.
“We got to do something to shore up our closer situation, because this ain’t working,” Dusty Baker said after last night’s meltdown.
Walking bases loaded then walking in a run caused Treinen to be pulled from the game for the second game in a row as Shawn Kelley finished Sunday’s game and last night’s also.
“Well, it probably means that we’re going to reevaluate and see where we’re at,” Mike Rizzo said on his 106.7FM radio appearance this morning. “We still love the depth we have in the bullpen, we love the personnel in the bullpen. Maybe it’s kind of a reshuffling of roles, get some different experiences in there. I’m not sure, we haven’t discussed it in depth yet, but we’re all in concert that we love the personnel that we have, we love the stuff, we love the depth that we have and we see that it’s going to be an asset for us going forward and not a detriment”
“We’re in first place in the division right now, so we’re pretty damn good. Let’s remember that. Like I said, I like this team, I love the talent level we have on it, the mix of experience and youth. We’re as exciting, athletic and fast of a team of any team in the league, and probably in baseball, and we feel good about ourselves. Why wouldn’t we?”
We have heard Rizzo say he loves his team, he loves his personnel, yadda yadda yadda. Whenever he says that, you know a change is coming. We might not know who the closer is tonight until the point we see who is warming up for the 9th inning.