Updated at 2:55 p.m.
On the heels of a trainwreck ballgame Wednesday night that saw their bullpen give up nine earned runs for the first time in six years, the Nationals optioned right-hander Aaron Barrett to Class AAA Syracuse before Thursday's series finale against the Diamondbacks and recalled Blake Treinen to take his spot on the roster.
Barrett was front-and-center during Wednesday's meltdown, giving up three runs during the top of the fifth, including the tying and go-ahead runs on a wild throw to first base. He had, however, been on a prolonged run of success, not surrendering any runs over his previous nine appearances.
Overall, Barrett owns a 4.60 ERA in 40 games, despite a strong 5-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio this season and only 28 hits allowed in 29 1/3 innings. The Nationals, though, want to see more consistency from the second-year reliever.
"I look back to [last weekend's] New York series. He pitched really well," manager Matt Williams said. "But then last night is an example of him not quite making a pitch, and having a bloop, and making the error and things go haywire. The situations we put him in are important situations, and he's been there many times. ... Recently, there's been some times where he just hasn't been able to make that pitch. So we just want him to make sure that he's continuing to work."
Barrett's most-recent appearance came under somewhat unusual circumstances, with starter Gio Gonzalez pulled after allowing a leadoff single on his second pitch of the sixth inning. Afterward, Barrett hinted he didn't have much time to warm-up prior to his entry.
"I did the best I could with the one batter I was able to get loose during the sixth inning," he said. "It is what it is, but you've got to find a way to get the job done. I didn't make pitches, and that's the result of it."
Treinen rejoins the Nationals after his demotion to Class AAA last month. He made only five appearances for Syracuse, but totaled 12 innings and didn't surrender a run, striking out 14 with only one walk. The 27-year-old battled his own inconsistencies while in the big leagues earlier this season, with a 4.39 ERA in 32 relief appearances. He hopes an emphasis on getting left-handed batters out — he started using his 4-seam fastball more against them in Syracuse — will help him now that he's back at this level after a demotion he understood was necessary.
"Shoot, it was no news to me," Treinen said. "I'm not trying to be upset for the lack or performance I had, or the reason I got sent down. I had things I had to work on that are going to help this team, and hopefully it translates when I get back up here."