JUPITER, Fla -- Nationals right-hander Blake Treinen already knows what he has to do to be successful this year. He has to get left-handed hitters out on a consistent basis. Last year, they hit .336 against him. It was one of the reasons he was sent down to Triple-A Syracuse for two weeks in July.
But it was a different story Sunday against the Cardinals, as the Nationals won, 5-2, at Roger Dean Stadium. Treinen pitched two shutout innings, while the Cardinals' left-handed hitters went 0-for-4 against the right-hander. But talking to Treinen, it's clear he wasn't satisfied with his outing. His fastball was hit and miss, and the slider wasn't good.
"Result-wise, I was very pleased, but the command on my fastball wasn't great. It's going to need a lot of work," Treinen said. "I've had days where it was really good. But I made pitches when I needed to. And I had great defense behind me.
"I executed some good changeups against lefties, which I think helped from an execution standpoint. It's a good start to the spring and I will try to build on it."
Treinen improved his changeup, thanks to pitching coach Mike Maddux, who had some good input on how to throw it and trust it.
"He told me, 'Don't try to create it. Throw it to locate it,'" Treinen said. "It's something so simple like that. It has helped tremendously. I don't try to overthink it. Just throw it."
Even though he started the game on Sunday, Treinen is expected to come out of the bullpen this year. Last year he went 2-5 with a 3.86 ERA. He will be the first to say that his season was feast or famine.
"There were some streaks of good pitching and there were some streaks where I would allow three or four [runs] an inning," Treinen said. "I think overall, I was pretty successful, but there are some glaring issues that need to be worked on like getting lefties out. That's the biggest one."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.