The Dodgers have been without right-hander Blake Treinen since late April due to a right shoulder injury, but Treinen is set to make one final minor league rehab appearance today and could rejoin the active roster as soon as Friday, tweets Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic. The Dodgers will need to open a spot on the 40-man roster, as Treinen is on the 60-day injured list. Treinen is on track to be the second major return for Los Angeles this week, as Clayton Kershaw is also apparently set for reinstatement from the injured list.
Treinen’s return will be a boon to a pitching staff that is currently dealing with key injuries both in the rotation (Kershaw, Walker Buehler, Tony Gonsolin) and in the bullpen (Treinen, Daniel Hudson, Tommy Kahnle, Victor Gonzalez, Yency Almonte). He may not be immediately dropped back into high-leverage spots, but given his track record, Treinen could find his way into such situations before long.
The 34-year-old Treinen was an All-Star with the 2018 A’s when he posted a majestic 0.78 ERA and saved 38 games — good for a sixth-place finish in American League Cy Young voting. However, his results tanked in 2019 (4.91 ERA, career-worst 13.9% walk rate), which prompted the A’s to non-tender him rather than pay a projected $7.8MM salary in hopes of a rebound. The Dodgers had no such qualms, actually paying Treinen a $10MM salary that exceeded arbitration projections by a wide margin. The results were more good than great, but Treinen was brought back on a two-year deal in the 2020-21 offseason and, last season, regained his status as one of the game’s top bullpen arms.
In 2021, Treinen racked up 72 1/3 innings of relief work while pitching to a pristine 1.99 ERA. He fanned 29.7% of his opponents against an 8.7% walk rate and a very strong 52.6% ground-ball rate. He saved seven games and posted an MLB-best 32 holds, regularly working in some of the team’s highest-leverage spots. Treinen went on to hold opponents to just two runs on five hits and two walks with eight strikeouts through 8 2/3 postseason innings.
Treinen’s 2022 season got out to a brief but brilliant start, as he tossed three innings and yielded just one solo homer with no other hits, no walks and five strikeouts. He hasn’t taken the big league mound since that time, but he’s pitched five innings on a Triple-A rehab stint, allowing a pair of earned runs on six hits and a walk with six strikeouts and a 53.3% grounder rate.
Even without Treinen in the mix, the Dodgers still have MLB’s third-lowest bullpen ERA, sitting at just 3.08. Dodgers relievers also have the game’s sixth-best strikeout rate (26.3%), second-lowest walk rate (7.4%) and fifth-lowest HR/9 mark (0.85). Treinen’s return could eventually give Dave Roberts an alternative to inconsistent closer Craig Kimbrel. If Kimbrel holds the ninth inning, Treinen will join lefty Alex Vesia, flamethrowing righty Brusdar Graterol, breakout righty Evan Phillips and deadline pickup Chris Martin in a deep and talented mix of setup arms.
A return to health for Treinen is particularly encouraging for the Dodgers, given that they rolled the dice on an extension for the right-hander back in May, when his status was murkier. Los Angeles preemptively exercised an $8MM option on Treinen for the 2023 season and tacked on another club option for the 2024 campaign.
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