Making the case for Blake Treinen as baseball's most valuable closer


Unless you're an A's fan or he's on your fantasy team, you probably haven't heard much about Blake Treinen.

The 29-year-old right-hander certainly doesn't have the national name recognition of closers like Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen, and Craig Kimbrel. But he may be more valuable than all of them.

It's not just that Treinen has great numbers, which he definitely does with a 1.08 ERA, 11 saves, and 32 strikeouts in 25 innings. His real value lies in his ability to pitch multiple innings, a rarity for closers today.

Treinen leads the majors with six multi-inning saves this season, his most recent coming Thursday against Seattle. His two wins have also come in multi-inning outings, and he has pitched as many as three full innings in a game, a feat unheard of among closers.

Treinen has pitched multiple innings on 10 separate occasions this season, allowing a grand total of one run in 17 2/3 innings. That translates to an absolutely ridiculous ERA of 0.51.

“It's something I'm prepared for, to go out there and possibly get more than three (outs),” Treinen said. “I just want to do my job and get outs when my name is called on so my team can get a win.”

“I don't know where we'd be without Blake right now,” A's manager Bob Melvin added. “Based on the fact that he's been a starter, he likes to pitch more than one inning. ... You don't see too many closers doing that nowadays.”

As Melvin noted, Treinen began his major league career as a starting pitcher with the Washington Nationals. He transitioned to a full-time reliever in 2015 and was traded to Oakland last July as part of the Sean Doolittle deal. It actually marked a return to the A's franchise for Treinen, who was drafted by Oakland in 2011 and spent a season with Single-A Stockton before being dealt to the Nationals.

This season, Treinen has provided a safety net for the rest of the A's bullpen. On Thursday, when Lou Trivino got in trouble in the eighth inning, Treinen came in and got out of the jam, then pitched a perfect ninth to lock down a 4-3 win.

Treinen's stuff has always been phenomenal. He throws a 98 mph sinker and a nasty slider. This season, he has improved his command and become almost unhittable.

“I don't know how, at 98 miles an hour, the ball has time to move that much, but it does,” Melvin marveled. “Right now, he's pitching about as well as anyone in baseball. On top of that, he has great stuff. It's all coming together for him.”

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