Results tagged ‘ Blake Treinen ’

Spring Training Preview, Part III: Starting Pitchers

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by Kyle Mann

Coming off a Major League Baseball-best 3.03 starters ERA, the Washington Nationals added 2013 American League Cy Young Award Winner Max Scherzer to a starting staff that is now projected to feature five members with Top-10 Cy Young Award finishes since 2012.

We’ve already previewed the Nationals starting catchers and relievers; now let’s dig into what could be a historically good starting staff.

*Note, 2014 totals reflect only Major League stats.

MAX SCHERZER

2014 Season Totals: 18-5, 3.15 ERA, 2.85 FIP, 10.29 K/9, 2.57 BB/9, 5.6 fWAR in 220.1 IP
2015 Steamer Projection: 14-8, 2.91 ERA, 2.96 FIP, 10.46 K/9, 2.43 BB/9, 3.9 fWAR in 192.0 IP

Even in a rotation full of aces, Scherzer stands out due to his impressive resume that includes the 2013 American League Cy Young Award and a fifth-place Cy Young finish in 2014. Scherzer, a 6-foot-3, 220-pound right-hander, also has two straight All-Star appearances, earning the starting nod in 2013 and winning the game out of the bullpen last season.

Now back in the National League, where he started his career as a first round pick of then-Diamondbacks Vice President of Scouting Operations (and current Nationals President of Baseball Operations and GM) Mike Rizzo, Scherzer is poised to continue his success in 2015 and beyond. Scherzer, baseball’s active leader (and fourth all-time) in strikeouts per nine innings pitched, also led the AL in wins each of the last two seasons (tied in 2014) and was a top three finisher in in strikeouts each of the past three years.

the Washington Nationals Nationals play the San Francisco Giants in the 2nd playoff gameJORDAN ZIMMERMANN

2014 Season Totals: 14-5, 2.66 ERA, 2.68 FIP, 8.20 K/9, 1.31 BB/9, 5.2 fWAR in 199.2 IP
2015 Steamer Proj.: 13-9, 3.39 ERA, 3.45 FIP, 7.65 K/9, 1.72 BB/9, 2.9 fWAR in 182.0 IP

A model of consistency, Jordan Zimmermann has established himself as one of the best pitchers in the Major Leagues the past four seasons. After tying for the NL lead in wins and finishing seventh in the Cy Young Award voting in 2013, Zimmermann followed up his first All-Star season with an even better 2014.

Zimmermann’s no-hitter to end the regular season was certainly the highlight, but Zimmermann was dominant all year. Zimmermann twice won NL Player of the Week honors and allowed the fewest walks per nine innings in the league, en route to a fifth-place finish in NL Cy Young voting. Known for being a bulldog on the mound, Zimmermann finished second in the league in strikeout-to-walk ratio and fourth in WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) and finished behind only National League MVP and Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw in fielding independent pitching (FIP) —a key indicator of future performance.

STEPHEN STRASBURG

2014 Season Totals: 14-11, 3.14 ERA, 2.94 FIP, 10.13 K/9, 1.80 BB/9, 4.3 fWAR in 215.0 IP
2015 Steamer Proj.: 13-8, 3.03 ERA, 2.87 FIP, 9.78 K/9, 2.27 BB/9, 3.8 fWAR in 182.0 IP

Since being selected with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft out of San Diego State University, Stephen Strasburg has established himself as one of the game’s most talented pitchers. Last season, Strasburg led the National League in strikeouts and games started behind a dominating fastball that averaged 94.8 mph and a change-up that averaged 88.2 miles per hour.

Strasburg struck out 10.13 batters per nine innings, good for second in the NL, on his way to a ninth-place finish in the Cy Young Award balloting. Thanks to a reduction in walk rate, Strasburg improved his strikeout-to-walk ratio from 3.41 in 2013 to 5.63 last season, good for second in the National League.  Strasburg has been the Nationals’ Opening Day starter each of the past three seasons and served as the Game 1 starter in the 2014 playoffs — and at just 26, is still improving — but it remains to be seen where he’ll slot in this rotation at the start of the 2015 campaign.

MLB-Miami Marlins at Washington NationalsDOUG FISTER

2014 Season Totals: 16-6, 2.41 ERA, 3.93 FIP, 5.38 K/9, 1.32 BB/9, 1.3 fWAR in 164.0 IP
2015 Steamer Proj.: 12-10, 3.78 ERA, 3.68 FIP, 6.20 K/9, 1.82 BB/9, 2.1 fWAR in 182.0 IP

In his inaugural season in Washington, Doug Fister had the best ERA among all Nationals starters, and his 2.41 ERA was good for fourth best in the National League. Considering he may head into 2015 as a possible fourth starter in the rotation, D.C. has plenty of reasons to be excited about the team’s chances during the 2015 season. With a quick tempo and a four-pitch mix that perplexed hitters all season long, Fister improved his ERA every month of the season on his way to an eighth-place finish in the NL Cy Young Award voting. Finishing behind only teammate Jordan Zimmermann in the NL in walks per nine innings, Fister’s control is the key to his success. After flourishing in his first season in the nation’s capital, Fister is poised for another great season for the Nationals in 2015.

GIO GONZALEZ

2014 Season Totals: 10-10, 3.57 ERA, 3.03 FIP, 9.19 K/9, 3.18 BB/9, 3.1 fWAR in 158.2 IP
2015 Steamer Proj.: 11-9, 3.70 ERA, 3.59 FIP, 8.68 K/9, 3.32 BB/9, 2.0 fWAR in 163.0 IP

The lone southpaw in the Nationals’ batch of starters, Gio Gonzalez enters 2015 coming off a strong September where he posted a 2.48 ERA and had 31 strikeouts and only five walks. Overall, his effectiveness in 2014 was masked by an ERA more than a half run higher than his FIP, which could indicate a return to some of the numbers the Hialeah, Fla. native posted during his 21-win 2012 campaign. The two-time All-Star is sixth among active pitchers in strikeouts per nine innings and sixth among active MLB lefties in career ERA, with an uptick in numbers since joining the Nationals three seasons ago. Gonzalez could be in line for a strong 2015, particularly if he continues to develop his change-up, a pitch he threw with more regularity in the second half of the season.

TANNER ROARK

2014 Season Totals: 15-10, 2.85 ERA, 3.47 FIP, 6.25 K/9, 1.77 BB/9, 3.0 fWAR in 198.2 IP
2015 Steamer Proj.: 2-2, 4.10 ERA, 4.13 FIP, 6.44 K/9, 2.26 BB/9, 0.3 fWAR in 38.0 IP

Part of the package the Nationals received for Cristian Guzman in a 2010 trade, Tanner Roark finished the 2014 season with 15 wins and a 2.85 ERA, proving his strong rookie season was no fluke. While Roark’s 2015 role isn’t yet clear, he’s shown he can be very successful as a starter, or coming out of the bullpen, including 22.2 innings in 2013 in which he posted a 1.19 ERA. After finishing last season in the Top 10 in the National League in wins, WHIP, walks per inning pitched and pitching WAR, Roark provides great rotation depth for the Nationals and should easily beat his Steamer projections if he gets regular work. As the old saying goes, you can never have too much pitching, and Roark has shown he will provide value no matter how he is used in 2015.

New York Mets v Washington Nationals - Game OneBLAKE TREINEN

2014 Season Totals: 2-3, 2.49 ERA, 3.09 FIP, 5.33 K/9, 2.31 BB/9, 0.6 fWAR in 50.2 IP
2015 Steamer Proj.: 2-2, 3.55 ERA, 3.47 FIP, 6.83 K/9, 2.17 BB/9, 0.2 fWAR in 45.0 IP 

A key part of the three-team trade that sent Michael Morse to Seattle before the 2013 season — a deal that also netted the Nationals A.J. Cole and Ian Krol (later an integral part of the trade for Doug Fister) — Blake Treinen’s blazing fastball generated a lot of buzz in D.C. during his first taste of the Major Leagues. After posting an outstanding 2.49 ERA in 15 appearances (seven starts) with the Nationals in 2014, Treinen is an option to provide rotation depth, or be utilized out of the Nationals bullpen. A former college walk-on, Treinen threw his hard, sinking fastball nearly 80 percent of the time last season with an average speed of 94.8 miles per hour. Regardless of role, Treinen should be a solid contributor for the Nationals in 2015.

TAYLOR JORDAN

2014 Season Totals: 0-3, 5.61 ERA, 4.50 FIP, 5.96 K/9, 2.81 BB/9, 0.1 fWAR in 25.2 IP
2015 Steamer Proj.: 1-1, 3.79 ERA, 3.74 FIP, 6.45 K/9, 2.14 BB/9, 0.1 fWAR in 20.0 IP

After a successful rookie season in 2013, Taylor Jordan began the year in the Nationals rotation before returning to Triple-A Syracuse in early May. The young right-hander underwent surgery to remove bone chips from his right elbow in September, and began the process of working toward this spring. A groundball pitcher, the Merritt Island, Fla. native has induced a 56 percent groundball rate during his time in the Majors, peaking at 57.5 percent during his 2013 campaign, in which he posted a 3.66 ERA. Provided he’s healthy to start the season, Jordan should be ready to contribute in the role and the level the Nationals feel will be his best fit.

TAYLOR HILL

2014 Season Totals: 0-1, 9.00 ERA, 3.69 FIP, 5.00 K/9, 3.00 BB/9, 0.1 fWAR in 9.0 IP
2015 Steamer Proj.: 1-1, 3.88 ERA, 3.96 FIP, 5.69 K/9, 1.65 BB/9, 0.0 fWAR in 30.0 IP

A sixth-round pick in the 2011 draft out of Vanderbilt University, Taylor Hill made his Major League debut for the Nationals in June and earned his first big league start in September of last season. While Hill ran into some tough luck during his brief MLB stint, he produced an outstanding 2.81 ERA for Triple-A Syracuse in 144 innings. Hill provides great starting rotation depth for the Nationals.

A.J. COLE

2014 Season Totals: N/A
2015 Steamer Proj.: 0-0, 4.14 ERA, 4.05 FIP, 6.99 K/9, 2.73 BB/9, 0.0 fWAR in 1.0 IP

Ranked as the Nationals’ No. 2 prospect by MLB.com, A.J. Cole features a fastball that sits in the mid-90s as well as a solid changeup and curveball. After being selected as a fourth-round pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, Cole was included in the haul to acquire All-Star Gio Gonzalez from the Oakland Athletics in December 2011. But the Nationals have always been high on Cole, who was reacquired by the Nationals in January 2013 as the centerpiece of the Michael Morse trade. After a successful 2014 season between Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Syracuse, in which he combined for a 3.16 ERA and 111 strikeouts over 134 innings, Cole enters Spring Training with a chance to contribute to the Nationals at some point during the 2015 season.

FELIPE RIVERO

2014 Season Totals: N/A
2015 Steamer Proj.: 0-0, 4.48 ERA, 4.48 FIP, 6.86 K/9, 3.96 BB/9, 0.0 fWAR in 1.0 IP

Acquired with Jose Lobaton and Drew Vettleson last spring for Nathan Karns, Felipe Rivero is a hard throwing southpaw who can hit 97 mph with his fastball. He complements that offering with a curveball and a change-up, both which show promise. The native of Venezuela struck out 8.4 batters per nine innings across three levels in 2014, ending his season with a stint in the Arizona Fall League. If Rivero improves his command, the 23-year-old projects as left-handed starter in the majors, but also has potential as a left-handed stopper in the bullpen.

SAMMY SOLIS

2014 Season Totals: N/A
2015 Steamer Proj.: 0-0, 4.06 ERA, 4.05 FIP, 7.16 K/9, 3.07 BB/9, 0.0 fWAR in 1.0 IP

A 6-foot-5 left-hander, Sammy Solis has pitched well when healthy. Solis has an impressive 3.33 ERA over the course of his Minor League career with 7.9 strikeouts per nine innings, and features a fastball that can touch 95 miles per hour to go with a solid change-up. A former second-round draft pick out of the University of San Diego, Solis has the chance to move through the Nationals’ system quickly.

Inside the Numbers: Starting Rotation

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by Mike Feigen

startersnldsWhen the Nationals take the field for Game 1 of the National League Division Series this Friday, whichever pitcher Matt Williams entrusts with the starting assignment will give the team a tremendous chance to win.

That’s what the eye test tells us.

Fans of the Nationals saw Jordan Zimmermann, Stephen Strasburg, Doug Fister, Tanner Roark and Gio Gonzalez win game after game — or at least help the club earn win after win — throughout the regular season. Those core members of the starting five owned a collective record of 69-42 (.622) and the Nationals went 94-55 (.631) when one of them received the ball.

However, wins and losses really don’t tell a precise story of how well a pitcher performed. Too many external factors come into play in each win and loss, such as run support, batted ball luck and bullpen performance.

Instead, we look at the types of things a pitcher can control, such as walks and strikeouts. In the case of the 2014 Nationals, no pitching staff did it better — in the history of baseball.

This season, Washington pitchers struck out 1,288 opposing batters and walked 352. That’s a ratio of 3.66-to-1, a better rate than any of the other 2,391 teams to play a full season of baseball since 1901.

In fact, only 60 other teams in history had even managed a 2.66-to-1 ratio, underscoring just how well the Nationals struck batters out and limited free passes.

But the 3.66-to-1 figure only scratches the surface.

When considering only starting pitchers, the Nationals’ figure leaps to an astounding 4.05-to-1. And when excluding the 13 spot starts posted throughout the year by Blake Treinen, Taylor Jordan and Taylor Hill — leaving just the core five of Zimmermann, Strasburg, Fister, Roark and Gonzalez — the limits of the statistical stratosphere are tested.

The final ratio? An incredible 4.30-to-1.

So, when the going gets tough and runners are on base in the postseason, Williams, pitching coach Steve McCatty and the rest of the Nationals have the numbers on their side to back up what we’ve seen in the regular season. Notching a timely strikeout instead of issuing an inopportune walk can make or break a team in October — and one team is better equipped to do it than any other.

 Name K BB K:BB ratio
Zimmermann 182 29 6.28
Strasburg 242 43 5.63
Fister 98 24 4.08
Roark 138 39 3.54
Gonzalez 162 56 2.89
TOTAL 822 191 4.30

Nationals add six players to expanded roster

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by Amanda Comak

The Washington Nationals September call-ups arrived on Monday as the team recalled RHP Aaron Barrett, LHP Xavier Cedeno, C Sandy Leon, 1B/OF Tyler Moore and RHP Blake Treinen from Triple-A Syracuse. Additionally, OF Steven Souza Jr. (left shoulder) was returned from rehab and reinstated to the active roster.

Marlins v. NationalsBarrett, 26, is 3-0 with a 3.21 ERA in 40 games, (33.2 IP) for the Nationals this season. The hard-throwing righty made the Nationals 25-man roster out of Spring Training and quickly earned an integral role in manager Matt Williams’ bullpen. His 11.50 strikeouts per nine innings ranks second among all rookie National League relievers this season, behind only Philadelphia’s Ken Giles (12.72).

Barrett returns to the Nationals after going 1-0 with two saves in 10 games for Syracuse – in which he did not allow a run, surrendered five hits, walked one batter and struck out eight.

Cedeno, 28, rejoins the Nationals for the fourth time this season. The left-handed reliever has not allowed a run at the Major League level this season, scattering four hits in three appearances (3.1 IP) with one strikeout. At Triple-A, Cedeno was 5-1 with a 2.29 ERA in 35 games (39.1 IP).

While holding International League batters to a .163 average against and possessing a 0.86 WHIP, Cedeno has struck out 57, walked 12 and allowed just 10 earned runs. Against left-handed batters, his ERA drops to 1.35.

Leon, 25, strengthens the Nationals’ catching corps for the stretch run in his fourth Major League stint of the season. The switch-hitting catcher hit his first Major League home run on April 14 off Kevin Slowey in Miami, and posted a .169 average in 18 Major League games this season. Leon hit .229 for Syracuse with five home runs and 25 RBI.

Known for his above-average defensive skills behind the plate, Leon has caught 45 percent of attempted base stealers over the course of eight Minor League seasons.

Cincinnati Reds v Washington NationalsMoore, 27, makes his third return to the Nationals’ Major League roster this season, adding power and versatility off the bench. In 34 Major League games (16 starts) this season, Moore hit .214 with three home runs and 11 RBI. The first baseman/outfielder hit .265 with a .367 on-base percentage and a .434 slugging percentage at Triple-A this season, clubbing 31 extra-base hits and driving in 44 runs in 84 games.

In 46 career big league games as a first baseman, Moore has hit .325 with eight doubles, six home runs and 26 RBI.

Treinen, 26, rejoins the Nationals for the sixth time this season. He is 1-3 with a 2.35 ERA in 11 Major League games (five starts) this year. The right-hander earned his first MLB win on June 28 at Wrigley Field when he held the Cubs to two earned runs over 5.0 IP. As a starter in the majors, Treinen has worked to a 2.50 ERA, and as a reliever he’s posted a 1.54 mark.

Treinen had an 8-2 record with a 3.35 ERA in 16 starts at Triple-A this year.

Souza Jr. returns to the active roster after missing 20 games with a left shoulder contusion. The 25-year-old, who was named the International League MVP last week, led the league in almost every offensive category: batting average (.350), on-base percentage (.432), and slugging percentage (.590). He also hit 18 home runs, drove in 75 and stole 26 bases.

Souza Jr. is 1-for-12 (.083) with one walk and four strikeouts in the Major Leagues this year.

The Nationals’ September call-ups helped the Chiefs clinch their first IL North Division title in 25 years on Saturday night. The players will join the Nationals before the start of their three-game series at the Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday evening.

Nationals recall Xavier Cedeno and Blake Treinen, option Taylor Hill

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by Amanda Comak

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v Washington NationalsThe Washington Nationals recalled left-handed reliever Xavier Cedeno and right-handed starter Blake Treinen from Triple-A Syracuse on Saturday morning and optioned right-handed pitcher Taylor Hill there. Treinen was recalled as the 26th man for the Nationals’ scheduled doubleheader with the Chicago Cubs and will start the nightcap.

Cedeno returns to the Nationals for his third Major League stint of the season. In his previous two call-ups, Cedeno has tossed 2.1 innings and allowed no runs on two hits. He has not walked a single batter.

With Triple-A Syracuse this season the lefty is 3-0 with a 1.56 ERA in 15 appearances (17.1 IP) with one save. Cedeno has held International League batters to a .164 average against.

Treinen rejoins the Nationals to make the fifth start of his Major League career. He will face Cubs right-hander Jeff Samardzija in the second game of Saturday’s scheduled doubleheader. Treinen is 0-3 in eight Major League games (30.1 IP) but possesses a 2.08 ERA.

With Syracuse, Treinen is 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA in eight starts (35.0 IP). He has held Minor League opponents to a .214 batting average against and has a 7.97 K/9 ratio.

Hill made his Major League debut for the Nationals on June 25, tossing 3.1 innings against the Milwaukee Brewers and allowed two earned runs in the Nationals’ 9-2 loss. The right-hander also pitched a scoreless inning on June 27 against the Chicago Cubs. In two appearances (4.1 IP), he worked to a 4.15 ERA.

Nationals recall LHP Xavier Cedeno, option RHP Blake Treinen

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by Amanda Comak

The Washington Nationals recalled left-handed reliever Xavier Cedeno from Triple-A Syracuse on Friday afternoon and optioned right-hander Blake Treinen to Syracuse.

In three appearances with Triple-A Syracuse this season, Cedeno has tossed 3.2 scoreless innings. Cedeno has allowed just one hit, walked one and struck out four while holding opponents to a .077 batting average.

Acquired from the Astros in April of 2013, Cedeno, 27, appeared in 11 games and worked to a 1.50 ERA with Washington last season. In parts of three Major League seasons, Cedeno has amassed 45 innings and worked to a 5.40 ERA.

Treinen, 25, made his Major League debut with the Nationals on April 12, pitching two scoreless innings against the Atlanta Braves.

In three Major League appearances, the hard-throwing right-hander who has drawn raves from team officials and scouts since Spring Training, allowed just one earned run in 6.2 innings of work, a 1.35 ERA.

He earned his first Major League strikeout on April 12 when he got Braves third baseman Chris Johnson swinging.

The Kids Are All Right

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by Amanda Comak

In the final weeks of Spring Training, as the Washington Nationals began to whittle their roster down to the 25 men who would travel north with them to begin the 2014 season, manager Matt Williams had to have several difficult conversations. Rosters constraints are what they are, Williams had to explain, and at that moment there just wasn’t room for everyone.

There was one caveat Williams tried to impress on some of the young talent that made the trek to his office in those final days of camp.

“You need 35 guys during the course of a season – on the low end,” he told them. “We’re going to need you guys at some point. Make sure you’re ready.”

In the first three weeks of the season, the Nationals have already summoned four of those players, and no fewer than five rookies, including right-hander Aaron Barrett who made the team out of camp, have made significant contributions. It’s the first time since 2009 that the Nationals have used as many as five rookies in the month of April.

Aaron Barrett holds the ball used in his first MLB strikeout.

Aaron Barrett holds the ball used in his first MLB strikeout.

Early-season injuries, along with a taxed bullpen, have necessitated the promotions of catcher Sandy Leon, right-hander Blake Treinen, outfielder Steven Souza Jr., and infielder Zach Walters. Barrett, who was outstanding in six games (4.1 IP), did not surrender a single earned run and allowed just one hit before a the need for a fresh arm sent him to Syracuse last weekend.

On the Nationals’ most recent road trip, clubhouse manager Mike Wallace was so busy properly inscribing important baseballs for the many “firsts” the rookies racked up, it seemed the Nationals were rolling a ball out of play every night.

“They all proved that they were capable during Spring Training,” Williams said this past week. “Some guys have been up here before, but they were ready to come when they were called. That’s a testament to player development, making sure they’re playing enough and getting at-bats and doing things they need to do to be ready when they’re called.

“We don’t want them called – and by that I mean, because you want your starting guys out there – but it’s a testament to them that they were ready.”

For the players, it has been quite an experience.

“The whole thing is a dream,” Walters said. “Just being here.”

When Barrett entered to make his Major League debut on Opening Day – in a tie game – his adrenaline surged. Before he began his warm-up pitches, shortstop Ian Desmond approached him.

“He just looked at me and said, ‘Hey, just take a second and look around. Just take this all in,’” Barrett said later that day. “I’m just really glad he did that, because I’ll never forget that moment and that he did that for me.”

Zach Walters, left, Steven Souza Jr., center, and Sandy Leon, right, hold the baseballs used in their various MLB "firsts" before a game in Miami this week.

Zach Walters, left, Steven Souza Jr., center, and Sandy Leon, right, hold the baseballs used in their various MLB “firsts” before a game in Miami this week.

Treinen made his Major League debut on Saturday, April 12, and registered his first Major League strikeout that night when Atlanta Braves third baseman Chris Johnson swung at strike three.

Leon, who has appeared in the big leagues in each of the past two seasons but retains his rookie status, smashed his first Major League home run over the right field wall on Monday night in Miami. After that game, Leon smiled often and called his first MLB homer “really awesome.”

Walters, who is also in his second big league stint after a September call-up last season, followed suit on Tuesday, crushing his first big league home run to right field. He didn’t wait long for his second, either, with a shot to deep left field that broke a 3-3 tie with the Marlins in an eventual 6-3 victory.

Souza Jr., whose indirect path to the Major Leagues has brought his emotions right to the surface now that he is here, picked up his first big league hit on Tuesday night, a single up the middle. When he got back to the dugout, his teammates were waiting for him.

“It’s so cool, man,” Souza Jr. said. “The love you get around here, the camaraderie. I’m just the new guy up there. Everybody is making me feel so welcome. To get hugs from (Desmond), who I started (in the organization) with, to Tyler (Moore), one of my best friends, it’s just a moment I’ll never forget.”

Sandy Leon holds the ball he hit for his first MLB home run.

Sandy Leon holds the ball he hit for his first MLB home run.

“I was just glad I was able to get a couple of zeroes and some outs, and do what I was called up here to do: eat some innings and help save our bullpen,” Treinen said after his debut. “It felt good. I’m kind of at a loss for words. It was fun to be up here at this level.”

The baseballs used in those “firsts” become the ultimate keepsakes for the players. They are authenticated by a Major League Baseball authenticator and inscribed by Wallace. Where they go from there is up to each guy. Treinen immediately gave his to his parents, and Souza Jr. said his was likely heading to his parents as well.

“It’s one of those things,” Souza Jr. said. “You’ve come so far, and all the hard work (that’s gone into getting here), and the people who helped me along this way, it’s a moment to kind of share with everyone.”

“These guys have wanted to do this since they were six years old,” said Williams, who still has the baseballs from his “firsts” as a player. “It’s the culmination of your efforts to become a big leaguer. And then there are three stages of that: you want to get there, you want to stay, and then you want to win a championship.

“I’m happy to see them all doing well.”

Nationals select RHP Blake Treinen, recall OF Steven Souza Jr., option RHP Aaron Barrett and place OF Denard Span on 7-day DL

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by Amanda Comak

ATLANTA – In need of bullpen reinforcements after a taxing few games, the Washington Nationals selected the contract of right-hander Blake Treinen from Triple-A Syracuse and optioned right-handed reliever Aaron Barrett there on Saturday.

Additionally, the team recalled outfielder Steven Souza Jr. and placed outfielder Denard Span on the 7-day Disabled List with a concussion.

2014 Washington Nationals Photo DayTreinen, 25, made one start for Triple-A this season, tossing five innings and allowing just three hits. He did not allow an earned run, walked two and struck out four batters.

A power right-hander, Treinen has a 3.73 career ERA in 69 Minor League games (38 starts). This will be his first Major League assignment.

A seventh-round draft pick of the Oakland Athletics in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft (No. 226 overall), Treinen was acquired by the Nationals, along with right-hander A.J. Cole and left-handed reliever Ian Krol, from the Athletics in the three-team trade in Jan., 2013, that sent outfielder Michael Morse to the Seattle Mariners.

Treinen drew raves this spring as he participated in his first Major League camp. His fastball was routinely clocked in the mid-upper 90s and evaluators inside the Nationals’ organization, and out, were impressed by his performance.

A starter for the majority of his career, Treinen provides the Nationals with the luxury of being able to pitch multiple innings out of the bullpen. The team is currently in a stretch where they will play 20 consecutive games without an off day.

The Washington Nationals play the Miami MarlinsSouza Jr., one of the Nationals’ top 10 prospects as ranked by Baseball America, is hitting .273 with a .429 on-base percentage and a .545 slugging percentage in seven games for Triple-A Syracuse this season. Souza has clubbed two home runs, walked six times and struck out on just four occasions.

A third-round selection of the Nationals in the 2007 First Year Player Draft (No. 100 overall), Souza Jr., 24, has hit .247 in 629 Minor League games with 209 extra-base hits (117 doubles, 15 triples and 77 home runs) and 351 RBI. Since the start of the 2012 season, Souza Jr. has posted a .296 batting average. This will also be his first Major League assignment.

Barrett, a rookie who made the Nationals out of Spring Training after a strong performance in Major League camp, pitched in six games (4.1 IP) and did not allow an earned run. Of the 16 batters Barrett faced, he allowed just one hit, walked only two and struck out six.

Despite his youthful status on the Nationals’ roster, manager Matt Williams rarely hesitated to trust Barrett with getting big outs. He made his Major League debut in the ninth inning of a tie game on Opening Day, and was summoned to face Giancarlo Stanton, one of the most feared power hitters in the Major Leagues, on Thursday in a one-run game.

Span, the Nationals’ starting center fielder, is hitting .222 this season with a .300 on-base percentage, three doubles, a triple, four walks and four RBI. He suffered the injury in a collision with Braves second baseman Dan Uggla on the basepaths on Friday night.

Additionally, infielder/outfielder Jeff Kobernus was recalled from Triple-A and placed on the 60-day Disabled List with a left hand fracture. Kobernus underwent surgery on his hand this week.

Daily Wrap: Jordan counters in fifth starter battle, Treinen draws raves, & more

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by Amanda Comak

JUPITER, Fla. — The Washington Nationals trekked to Jupiter, Fla., and battled the raindrops for most of Monday afternoon, but they squeezed in a 4-1 victory over the Miami Marlins and slashed their remaining number of Grapefruit League games to three.

Player of the Day: Taylor Jordan

The Washington Nationals defeat the New York Mets 5- 4Nate McLouth would be a worthy choice for this honor on Monday, the Nationals’ outfielder smacking an RBI-double to right field in his first at-bat, walking in his second and crushing a home run over the right field wall in his third.

But as Spring Training winds down, the competition for the No. 5 spot in the team’s rotation is one of the most compelling remaining decisions. And with that in mind, Taylor Jordan‘s 5.2-inning performance in which he allowed one run off five hits, with one walk and two strikeouts, is too hard to overlook.

Jordan and Tanner Roark appear to be the main contenders battling for the final spot in the Nationals’ rotation and manager Matt Williams admits the team is in a no-lose spot when it comes to making that decision.

“He’s made a case,” Williams said of Jordan, one day after similarly lauding Roark. “He’s pitched well the whole spring for us. It’s going to be a very difficult decision. They’re both pitching very well, and that’s a good thing… They both have unique ways of going about it… They both make a great case, and that’s a very nice problem to contemplate.”

“It’s (tough) because they both have pitched really well. What are you going to do? They both have answered the bell every time we’ve asked them to, so it’s been great.”

Jordan, who rocketed through the Nationals’ system in 2013 and pitched well in his first Major League call-up, said he’s stopped worrying about the competition and is focusing on being ready for the season, regardless of where his season begins.

“I’m just going to play it by ear,” Jordan said. “I’m happy to go to Triple-A. It’s still a bump up for me. I’ve never even been to Triple-A. Last year was just a blessing to be up in the big leagues. I don’t expect anything… Honestly I’m really pleased that I came back this strong after I broke my ankle this offseason. I’m extremely pleased that I’m as healthy as I am right now.”

Quote of the Day: Matt Williams on right-hander Blake Treinen, who was reassigned to Minor League camp on Monday morning but left having made an incredibly strong impression on the Nationals’ decision makers. He will be stretched out a bit in the Minor Leagues to keep the option of being a starting pitcher open.

474998153“He’s just an exceptional young man,” Williams said. “We let him know that he is our next wave, if you will. He proved everything that he had to prove to us this spring. We’re all certainly pleasantly surprised with his progress and the way he threw the baseball.

“His stuff plays at any point later in a game. It’s a bowling ball at 97 (mph). That’s all good. We have some depth, certainly, in the starting roles, so he may be able to help us in the bullpen, as well. And we asked him the question this morning – he likes the bullpen, as well.”

Notables:

Anthony Rendon, who has been sidelined by a chest cold the past few days, was put through a full infield workout this morning with Williams and Defensive Coordinator/Advance Coach Mark Weidemaier. Williams said Rendon is feeling better and “ideally” will be able to return to game action on Tuesday… The Nationals will play their final home game of the spring on Tuesday, welcoming the New York Mets to Space Coast Stadium for a 1:05 p.m. home finale. They will then visit Jupiter, to play the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday, and Port St. Lucie, to face the Mets once more on Thursday in their final game before heading north.

Daily Wrap: Treinen continues to impress, second base competition ongoing, & more

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by Amanda Comak

The Washington Nationals‘ Grapefruit League slate was whittled to six remaining games on Friday afternoon when they fell to the St. Louis Cardinals, 2-0. Gio Gonzalez tossed 4.2 innings before a high pitch count cut his day a bit short, but the Nationals’ relievers did well against the Cardinals’ lineup after his departure.

Player of the Day: Right-hander Blake Treinen

Right-hander Blake Treinen is impressing in Major League camp.

Right-hander Blake Treinen is impressing in Major League camp.

Blake Treinen has been garnering a bit more attention of late, as the Nationals’ make cuts to their roster in Major League camp and the young, flamethrowing right-hander remains. Treinen, acquired from the Oakland Athletics in the trade that sent Michael Morse to the Seattle Mariners in January, 2013, has allowed just one run in his last 8.2 innings and scouts have continued to rave about his electric arsenal of pitches.

In a conversation with reporters on Friday afternoon, after he got two outs against the Cardinals, Treinen called the fact that he remains in Major League camp a “pleasant surprise.”

“My intentions and expectations coming into spring training were just to leave an impression,” Treinen told reporters. “And the fact I’m still around is an absolute blessing. I can’t thank them more for giving me the opportunity they’ve given me so far. I’m just trying to make the most of it, go day-by-day. Whatever their decision is at the end of spring training, it’s their decision. But I feel like I’ve done my absolute best to leave an impression with the big club.”

Quote of the Day: Manager Matt Williams on the ongoing competition for the starting second base job between Anthony Rendon and Danny Espinosa

“I’m not ready to make that decision yet. We’ve got a week left. They’ll continue to play and get at-bats. I like what I’ve seen. They’ve competed well. Anthony has played really well. His swing is right on. Danny’s swing is right on right now. They’re both quality defenders in the infield. They both play multiple positions. So, there’s options there.”

Video highlights:

Caleb Ramsey makes a phenomenal play to throw out Kolten Wong at third base from deep in right field foul territory:

Notables:

The Nationals will play their penultimate home game on Saturday afternoon when the Miami Marlins visit Space Coast Stadium. Doug Fister will start for the Nationals… Jordan Zimmermann will pitch in a Minor League game on Saturday as well.

Nationals Invite 18 Non-Roster Players to Major League Spring Training

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by Amanda Comak

With Pitchers and Catchers set to report to Viera, Fla., in just three weeks, the Washington Nationals released their list of non-roster invitees on Friday – a list that includes players recently signed to Minor League deals as well as some of the organization’s top homegrown talent.farm graphic

The Nationals announced their deals with right-hander Gabriel Alfaro, infielder Jamey Carroll, right-hander Manny Delcarmen, infielder Mike Fontenot, right-hander Clay Hensley, right-hander Daniel Stange, infielder Brock Peterson and catcher Chris Snyder, who all signed Minor League contracts with invitations to Major League Spring Training.

In addition, the Nationals extended invitations to Major League Spring Training to right-hander A.J. Cole, left-hander Tyler Robertson, left-hander Danny Rosenbaum, right-hander Blake Treinen, right-hander Chris Young, catcher Brian Jeroloman, infielder Josh Johnson, infielder Will Rhymes, infielder Matt Skole and outfielder Brian Goodwin.

Here’s a bit more about the new additions to the Major League clubhouse at Space Coast Stadium:

  • Cole and Goodwin, both top prospects, will take part in their first Major League Spring Training.
  • Cole, the No. 2 prospect in the organization according to Baseball America, went 10-5 with 3.60 ERA in 25 starts between Single-A Potomac and Double-A Harrisburg. He tallied 151 strikeouts, third-most among Nationals farmhands, and his 102 strikeouts with Potomac were the most on the club, despite his promotion to Harrisburg on July 23rd. 
  • Goodwin led the Double-A Eastern League with 11 triples and was third in the league with 82 runs scored in 122 games for Double-A Harrisburg.  He tied for the team lead with 115 hits and paced qualified Senators in on-base percentage (.355) and slugging percentage (.407).  On the season, he hit .252 with 19 doubles, 10 homers, 40 runs batted in. The Rocky Mount, N.C. native is ranked by Baseball America as the No. 3 prospect in the Nationals’ organization.
  • Alfaro, 30, struck out 12.0 batters per nine innings in 2013 while pitching for Guerreros de Oaxaca of the Mexican League. He went 4-3 with a 2.71 ERA and 26 saves in 63.0 IP (53 games).
  • Carroll, a career .272 hitter, spent the 2013 season with Minnesota before being traded to Kansas City on August 11th.  The 39-year old was selected by the Montreal Expos in 1996 and spent his first four Major League seasons (2002-05) with the Montreal/Washington franchise before stints with Colorado (2006-07), Cleveland (2008-09), Los Angeles-NL (2010-11), Minnesota (2012-13) and Kansas City (2013). An original member of the Nationals, Carroll is one of six members of the 2005 Nationals who are still active. The others: Marlon Byrd, Endy Chavez, John Rauch, Luis Ayala and Ryan Zimmerman.
  • Delcarmen has spent parts of six MLB seasons pitching for Boston and Colorado, amassing an 11-8 record to go along with a 3.97 ERA in 298 games.  The 31-year old spent the 2013 season in Baltimore’s chain, appearing in 48 games for Triple-A Norfolk, going 3-3 with a 2.83 ERA.
  • Fontenot, 33, spent the 2013 season in Tampa Bay’s organization, playing 120 games for Triple-A Durham. He hit .264 with 32 doubles, two triples, four home runs, 42 runs batted in and 53 runs scored for the Bulls. Fontenot last appeared in the Major Leagues with Philadelphia in 2012 and previously spent time with San Francisco (2010-11) and Chicago-NL (2005-10).
  • Hensley has spent parts of seven Major League seasons pitching for San Diego (2005-08), Miami (2010-11) and San Francisco (2012), going 28-34 with 10 saves and a 4.00 ERA in 271 big league games.  The 34-year-old went 2-1 with a 2.57 ERA in 33 relief appearances with Triple-A Louisville (CIN), Triple-A Nashville (MIL) and the Sugar Land Skeeters of the Independent League last season.
  • Stange, 28, struck out 73 batters in 65.2 innings between Triple-A Tucson (SDP) and Triple-A Salt Lake City (LAA) in 2013.  He went 5-1 with a 4.52 ERA in 52 games between the two organizations last season, appearing in three games for Los Angeles (AL).
  • Peterson led the Triple-A Pacific Coast League with 25 home runs and was second in the league in slugging percentage (.531) and OPS (.895) in 2013.  He hit .296 with 30 doubles, one triple, 25 home runs, 86 RBI, 44 walks and 69 runs scored in 122 games for St. Louis’ top affiliate.  The 30-year old made his Major League debut on July 20th vs. San Diego and appeared in 23 games for the Cardinals.
  • Snyder, 32, returns to the Nationals after spending the 2013 season in the Los Angeles (AL) and Baltimore organizations. He combined to hit .273 with 14 doubles, 13 home runs, 45 RBI and a .330 OBP in 73 Triple-A contests with Salt Lake (Pacific Coast League, 21 games) and Norfolk (International League, 52 games).

Pitchers and catchers are slated report to the Nationals’ Spring Training facility in Viera, Fla., by Thursday, Feb. 13. Position players must report by Feb. 18, and the first full-squad workout is scheduled for Feb. 20.

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