On Wednesday night, the 27-year-old pitcher was part of the following “Hard Throwing Pitchers” question -- er, answer -- during the Double Jeopardy round of the long-running game show:
"The Nationals’ Blake Treinen has hit 100 mph with this pitch that gets its name from its downward motion."
On Thursday morning, the Washington clubhouse was abuzz over the fact that Treinen got Trebek-ed, with players ogling screenshots of the clue in front of their lockers as they prepared for the club’s first full-squad workout of spring training. Although Treinen didn’t watch the show Wednesday night, it didn’t take him long to hear about it.
“My mom sent me a text saying to call her, so I called her and asked if everything was OK,” said Treinen. “She was at my aunt and uncle’s house in Osage City [Kansas] and they watch 'Jeopardy!' every night. My name popped up and they said they about flipped out of their rocker.”
Asked if he knew how or why his name ended up being on the show -- you know, aside from being able to throw a baseball real hard -- Treinen had no, um, clue.
“I have no idea why,” said the righty reliever. “All the other guys are Hall of Famers and there’s just me. It’s weird.”
Technically, only half the other hurlers in the category are in Cooperstown -- Nolan Ryan and Randy Johnson, who were the subject of the $400 and $800 clues, respectively. But the remaining two pitchers that were featured -- Ron Guidry and Justin Verlander -- have 327 wins, 10 All-Star appearances, and two Cy Young awards between them. Then there’s Treinen, who, despite his triple-digit gas, has all of four wins in two big-league seasons. So how did he wind up part of the $2,000 question?
“The sports knowledge of our contestants generally doesn’t go too deep,” says "Jeopardy!" head writer Billy Wisse. “So I was looking for something new.”
Wisse, who’s been with the show for 26 years, says that even though he grew up in Montreal as a fan of the Expos (who would become the Nationals), that had nothing to do with Treinen getting some love on the show. “The Nationals are dead to me,” says Wisse, who’s been a Dodgers fan ever since moving to Los Angeles in the late-'80s. “I just stumbled upon this list of the hardest-throwing pitchers in baseball and thought it was cool that there’s someone who throws a 100 mile-an-hour sinker.”
Last season, per FanGraph’s, Treinen’s sinker averaged 96.3 miles an hour, the second-fastest in baseball behind Jeurys Familia of the Mets. But on May 29, during a seventh-inning at-bat by Reds catcher Brayan Pena, Treinen threw four sinkers of at least 100 miles an hour, including one that was clocked at 101.7 according to brooksbaseball.net.
Even though Pena ended up singling in the at-bat, Treinen retired the final two batters of the inning to avoid putting himself in any further, um, jeopardy.