MLB, SPORTS

Mike Matheny is sticking with closer Trevor Rosenthal

August 20, 2014

Trevor Rosenthal is struggling midway through his first full season as the St. Louis Cardinals closer. The 24-year old righty has allowed four runs in his last 2 1/3 innings. Cardinals manager Mike Matheny told Jim Bowden and Jody McDonald on Inside Pitch that Rosenthal’s critics need to remember how new Rosenthal is to the position.

This is the first time he’s ever done this job for a full season. Over-use is something we’re watching very closely. Trevor has been used about the same amount as he was used last year. One thing that is different is the number of pitches that he’s needing to get the same number of outs

Rosenthal has thrown 57 1/3 innings through Aug. 20; as of the same date last year, he had thrown 58 1/3 innings. He needed 1037 pitches to get through those 58 1/3 innings last year, while this season he has needed 1042 to get through one less inning.

Former Rookie of the Year and host of First Pitch Todd Hollandsworth said hitters are making adjustments to the hard-throwing Rosenthal, who has an average fastball of 96 miles per hour, according to Fangraphs.

“Rosenthal’s been through the league now … I don’t think his velocity is uncomfortable … He has virtually no tilt [movement] at all, so his fastball command has to be almost perfect.”

Rosenthal, who has five blown saves, is struggling with his command. He ranks second in the National League among relievers with 34 walks in 57 1/3 innings. In Rosenthal’s latest blown save on Monday night, he struck out pinch-hitter Chris Heisey before issuing a one-out walk to Reds speedster Billy Hamilton. Hamilton stole second and went to third when Cardinals catcher AJ Pierzynski’s throw sailed into center field. Jay Bruce followed with the game-tying double before Rosenthal worked himself out of the inning. The Cardinals won the game 6-5 on Jhonny Peralta’s game-winning double in the 11th inning.

Matheny isn’t necessarily looking to make a move at the back-end of his bullpen, but if Rosenthal continues to struggle, the Cardinals have multiple options. Seth Maness picked up the save on Sunday after Rosenthal worked his way into trouble, Pat Neshek made the All Star game this year and left-handed pitcher Sam Freeman has shown the ability to get batters out from both sides of the plate. Matheny also has another hard-throwing right-hander sitting in the bullpen.

“I don’t think you can ever discount the stuff that Carlos Martinez brings to the table with the kind of life he has, so he has the ability to get big outs late in the game,” the third-year Cardinals manager said.

But his first option would be to go with the closer who helped St. Louis reach the World Series last season.

“We can’t get too far away from the bigger picture of what Trevor has been able to do for us.”

Hollandsworth added that if Rosenthal is the guy finishing games for Matheny, then Cardinals fans need to get used to his Jekyll-and-Hyde ways

I don’t think it’s a magic pill or anything like that. This is Trevor Rosenthal. This is how his fastball runs, this is how his change-up works, and these are the issues that you are going to deal with moving forward … he’s going to have his moments where he loses it.