Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle examines Athletics closer Blake Treinen’s improved results since coming to Oakland last summer. The big righty has always shown phenomenal pure stuff in the majors, but had not quite figured out how to maximize it on the hill. While he’s handing out less walks than before, he’s also working in the zone less than in prior years. And he has generated less grounders (a still-impressive 53.3%) in exchange for a jump in swinging-strikes (all the way up to 18.8%). Treinen credits experience gained through “the maturation process.” Whatever the precise cause, the results — a 1.19 ERA with 10.7 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 over 22 2/3 innings in 2018 — certainly suggest that he has settled in nicely.
Here are a few more relief-related notes from out west:
- The Giants, meanwhile, could soon face some interesting calls on their late-inning mix. As Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area writes, the club could welcome Mark Melancon back within two weeks or so, as the veteran reliever is set to begin a rehab assignment after opening the year on the shelf due to ongoing pronator issues. Skipper Bruce Bochy says the team will “let him get settled” rather than thrusting Melancon back into the closer’s role. Melancon, 33, is certainly being paid to handle the ninth. But Hunter Strickland has performed quite well in his absence, working to a 2.18 ERA with 9.6 K/9 against 2.2 BB/9. Just how that situation will be navigated over the course of the season remains to be seen.
- It also is not yet clear what kind of contribution the Rangers will get from righty Tim Lincecum. As Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram writes, the veteran hurler is only touching 90 mph with his fastball despite reportedly showing more in a pre-signing showcase. He has produced better results of late in his rehab work, but in sum he has managed a less-than-promising 8:6 K/BB ratio in 8 1/3 innings over six outings. Of course, that’s too small a sample to read much into things. It isn’t known yet when Lincecum will get a crack at the majors, but barring a setback it seems it’ll come between May 28th (when he’s first eligible to return from the 60-day DL) and June 6th (when his thirty-day rehab period will expire).