Exit Interview: Trevor Rosenthal

For the fourth straight year, we’re taking some time in that time between the end of the season and the winter meetings to discuss each player that made an appearance on the St. Louis roster this season.  Whether they played almost every day or never actually got into a game, they get covered in this series.  All stats are exclusively their time in St. Louis.  Just think of this as them stopping by Mike Matheny‘s office for a quick evaluation before heading home for the winter.

Player: Trevor Rosenthal

Season stats: 2-4, 48 SV, 2.10 ERA, 68 games, 68.2 IP, 62 H, 3 HR, 25 BB, 83 K, 1.267 WHIP, 2.42 FIP,  2.7 bWAR

Hero/Goat: Goat 3

Overall grade: A

Positives: Set the club save record, passing Lee Smith and Jason Isringhausen….caused much fewer heart attacks by improving his command, walking 17 fewer batters in basically the same number of innings….posted a 3.32 K/BB ratio, much better than last year’s 2.07 mark….struck out over 10 per nine innings for the third year in a row….held lefties to a .194/.304/.222 line….was even more dominant away from Busch Stadium, with a 1.41 ERA and a .191/.262/.226 line against….posted a 1.49 ERA in the first half….was strong in August with 11 saves and a 0.69 ERA….batters hit .213 when there was nobody out in the inning.

Negatives: August was the outlier in the second half, as both July and September saw him post ERAs over 5….allowed a .298 average in low leverage situations….the Pirates hit .319 off of him, which was partly due to that terrible series against them right before the All-Star Break when the closer was worn out….righties hit him for a .270/.311/.375 line….had his worst outing in his second-to-last appearance, allowing four runs and recording no outs against Milwaukee, only his third blown save of the year.

Overview: For everyone’s mental health, Rosenthal had to find the strike zone more in 2015 and he did so in spades.  The walks were down while everything else stayed as dominant as we knew Rosie could be.  The result, another 40-save season and a lot fewer trips to the emergency room for fans.  That doesn’t mean he was perfect–there were still times that wild Rosie could peek out from the controlled exterior–but for the most part, Rosenthal was exactly what you want from a ninth inning guy, someone that will come in and shut the door without fanfare.

It’s a facet of the closer job that I apparently never gave him a Hero tag this season.  If you come into the ninth with nobody on and get three outs, you are doing your job and likely we look elsewhere for someone that made the bigger impact on the game.  If you don’t, of course, you probably wind up with the Goat–while I can’t say that Rosie’s three blown saves perfectly coincide with his three Goats, I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s the case.  Rosenthal probably did deserve more credit than he got and it was good to see him get a chance to go to the All-Star Game this year.  If he continues on the path he’s on now, he’ll be third on the all-time Cardinal save list after next season and perhaps in second early in 2018.  With closers, there’s always that if, but he’s looking like he could be one that sticks.

Outlook: Rosenthal has Scott Boras for an agent and is arbitration eligible this offseason, so his career earnings of $1.5 million are about to significantly increase.  I’d expect the Cards try to lock him up to some sort of long-term deal, though given how many of the staff have had some sort of injury after getting deals like that (Jason Motte, Jordan Walden, now Lance Lynn), maybe it’s not necessarily in either side’s best interest!  I expect the Cards will do some of their free agent shopping first, then sit down with Rosenthal early in January, perhaps trying to get a deal done to be announced around Winter Warm Up.

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