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2021 Dodgers in review: Blake Treinen

Treinen was a key piece in one of the top bullpens in all of Major League Baseball

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at Los Angeles Dodgers Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Blake Treinen had a solid season a year ago and the Dodgers rewarded him with a two-year contract in free agency. This year it was the time for Treinen to reward Los Angeles with a great campaign, a little reminiscent of his peak 2017 self, at least as much as he could given the statistical outlier that was that season. Now the Dodgers have what appears to be a steal, paying one of the premiere relievers in the game just under $9 million dollars per season.

Blake Treinen came into 2021 knowing he needed to make an adjustment. His usual sinker-heavy approach wasn’t getting the job done, not at least to the level of his high expectations. That change came in the form of a new and improved slider that he worked on in the offseason.

His usual breaking ball had more of a curve feel with very little horizontal movement. Treinen did a complete 180, ranking in the 96th percentile in horizontal movement vs average. With basically a new pitch to his arsenal, Treinen tweaked his pitch usage.

Blake Treinen pitch usage with Dodgers

Year Sinker Slider Cutter 4-seam FB
Year Sinker Slider Cutter 4-seam FB
2020 55.8% 26.3% 8.8% 9.1%
2021 27.4% 35.1% 30.0% 7.5%
Source: Baseball Savant

You could easily make the argument that there was no other more dominant reliever in the sport considering that Treinen finished in the top three percent in MLB in these categories:

  • xERA: 2.47
  • Barrel rate: 2.3 percent
  • Hard-hit rate: 27.2 percent
  • Average exit Velocity: 83.3 mph
  • xSLG: .261
  • wOBA: .233
  • xwOBA: .243

2021 particulars

Age: 33

Stats: 6-5, 1.99 ERA, 7 saves, 72⅓ IP, 85 K, 25 BB, 2.88 FIP, 0.982 WHIP, 206 ERA+, 2.4 bWAR, 1.8 fWAR

Salary: $7 million (includes $1 million of signing bonus, paid on January 31)

Game of the year

It’s hard to pick out a game of the year for a reliever unless he throws something like an immaculate inning, but in order to illustrate the impact of his new slider I’ll go with a 4-1 win over the Mets on August 19.

Treinen filled in for Kenley Jansen as the closer and struck out the side, facing Michael Conforto, JD Davis and Dominic Smith. Out of 13 pitches Treinen threw, there were eight sliders and six whiffs on the pitch, including three in a row to Davis, with three swings and misses.

Roster Status

Blake Treinen is under contract for 2022 at $6 million, plus he’ll be paid the final $3 million of his signing bonus on December 15. The Dodgers hold an $8 million club option for 2023, with a $1.5 million buyout.