Blake Treinen’s slider is the product of teamwork. He worked with assistant pitching coach Connor McGuiness, pitching coach Mark Prior, and bullpen coach Josh Bard to fine tune the pitch, leading to a fresh start in 2021 that solidified him as one of MLB’s best relievers.
After a shaky couple of seasons, Treinen bounced back with a 1.99 ERA and 85 strikeouts in 72 1⁄3 innings in 2021. His slider—which now has quadruple the horizontal break of his previous version—played a huge role.
“That slider is death on hitters,” manager Dave Roberts said.
That doesn’t mean Treinen will be the Dodgers’ closer, though. With Kenley Jansen’s departure, Roberts is opting for a closer-by-committee approach rather than slotting Treinen into the role, allowing him to stay in his setup role more often.
“I kind of enjoy [my current role] more than closing, to be honest with you,” Treinen said. “I enjoy both. When I was in the ninth, it’s a really fun feeling being the last one on the field when you get the last out. That’s a fun thing, knowing the game comes down to you. But you don’t always face the biggest situations in the ninth inning.”
According to Jack Harris of the Los Angeles Times, a closer role might be too limiting for Treinen, anyways. The pitcher’s new slider is not only effective against left- and right-handed batters, it’s also perfect for targeting strikeouts and ground balls—just what a team needs against the heart of an opposing lineup before closing out the game.
The Dodgers might have the best lineup ever, writes Jordan Shusterman of Fox Sports.
Second base is moving closer to first by about one foot, but will that actually produce more excitement on the base paths? Maybe not, writes Jayson Stark at The Athletic.
As expected, Tony Gonsolin and Andrew Heaney will officially round out the Dodgers’ rotation this season, writes Juan Toribio at MLB.com.