Trevor Rosenthal, Former Cardinals Closer, Chance As Starter In 2017?

By Beth Chapman
Oct. 07, 2016

Trevor Rosenthal, closer for the Cardinals, 2014-2015, with 45-48 saves, respectively.
Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The St. Louis Cardinals closer of 2014 - 2015, Trevor Rosenthal was extraordinary even though bringing drama to the hill more than once during the final inning of a game. He earned 45 (3.20 ERA) - 48 (2.10 ERA) saves, respectively, in those two seasons. In 2016, with fewer save opportunities, began see far more struggle than success in his jams created. He was retired as closer and replaced by Seung Hwan Oh, who finished out the season for closing duties. 

Towards the end of July, 2016, Rosenthal was placed on the 15 Day DL, due to shoulder inflammation and forearm stress. He had 14 saves with a 5.23 ERA. He was activated to the bullpen mid-September and closed the month with a 2.25 ERA. In his four games, 4 IP, he only gave up one earned run, on five hits allowed, issued one walk with four strikeouts. His one game in October, following a shortened stand by starter Michael Wacha (1 IP/1 HR/3 ER); and, Miguel Socolovich (1 IP/0 ER), Rosenthal was called to the mound and went three very strong scoreless innings. He only allowed two hits, issued one walk and had four strikeouts. He definitely caught the attentions of GM John Mozeliak and Manager Mike Matheny. 

With the Cardinals rotation, such as it was this season, will the organization give Rosenthal a shot as starter in 2017? Will they give him the chance to "audition" and compete during the upcoming Spring training?

[Rosenthal strikes out Rodriguez]

Was that full count familiar with Rosenthal on the mound? Yes. However, did he get the job done? Yes, he sure did - as he has done in the past. 

The last Rosenthal had pitched three consecutive innings, and scoreless, was in his 2012 rookie season, August 29. He followed former Cardinals starter Joe Kelly who went 5 IP/5 ER in the Cardinals 5-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. For 2016, one game is a very, very small performance sample; but, not unfamiliar from the Cardinals former closer. However, going more than one inning, this was a new facet for Rosenthal. During the early portion of his four seasons with the Cardinals, he had 12 games which he pitched two consecutive innings, in his career 278 GP/277.1 IP. He allowed 2 HR/7 ER with 22 strikeouts. Out of those 24 IP, he had 14 scoreless innings.  

With the uncertainty of what the Cardinals organization will decide regarding LHP Jaime Garcia, pick-up his option to trade; or, let him walk as he will be a free agent in 2017. Michael Wacha, even though counting on his return in Spring training as a starter, he will continue rehab efforts this off-season to strengthen his upper body to counter the rare shoulder injury. Guaranteed 100%? With the type of injury that this is, the Cardinals are hopeful for Wacha. Lance Lynn will return next Spring after his Tommy John's surgery which kept him out the entire 2016 season. I look for Adam Wainwright, Carlos Martinez, Alex Reyes and Mike Leake to be in that mix, also. SO ~ where would Rosenthal fit in? However, with this last appearance, that has put his name among "possibles". 

As is so familiar from Mozeliak (Derrick Goold, St. Louis Post-Dispatch): I imagine that’s something we’re going to talk about,” general manager John Mozeliak said. However, those three innings for Rosenthal: "The result was a willingness to explore what Rosenthal has held out hope for during his years in the bullpen: a chance to start."