Closer Battle: Rosenthal vs. Oh.

Someone mentioned the other day, that down the road, Seung-hwan Oh, a 33 year old Korean closer who we signed in the off-season to join our bullpen, would eventually supplant Trevor Rosenthal as our closer. I thought I’d take a closer look at the two and compare them.

Oh, who I mentioned is a former closer in Korea (he also, in fact, closed in Japan) earned 357 saves in the two foreign leagues he pitched in before coming over here. Oh is primarily a 3 pitch guy, relying on a 93 mph 4 seamer, a 86 mph slider and a 83 mph changeup. He also has a 73 mph curve which he uses very rarely.

Rosenthal, as you know, has been our full time closer since 2014, and has earned 104 saves for the Cardinals. Rosie is mainly a two pitch guy, relying on his 98 mph heater and a 88 mph change-up. Rosie also can throw both a slider and curve, but rarely uses them.

As far as stats go, here are their numbers so far this year:


26.2  IP in 25 games. 2.03 ERA, 36 K’s, 7 BB, 0 saves, 1 blown save.


16 IP in 17 games, 2.25 ERA, 25 K’s, 12 BB, 8 saves, 1 blown save.

If you look at the numbers, Oh is having the better year. He’s got more innings (partly because Mike adheres to the whole “saving the closer” thing where closer’s *must* only be used at certain times!) a lower ERA, and a better strikeout to walk ratio (5.14 for Oh, 3.57 for Rosie) Simply put, Oh has been the better pitcher.

So back to the point of the post, which pitcher do you want in the game in say, the ninth inning, with 2 men on and 2 men out?

I’d go with Oh, and not just because he has better stats.

One thing has always bothered me (and others I’m sure) about Trevor. He’s always been a bit of a “here’s the heat, see if you can hit it!” kind of pitcher. Sure his change-up has gotten better over time, but batters can sit fastball. Plus what happens if/when his fastball declines? There’s only one arm immune to age and Aroldis Chapman already has it. I’d feel better if Rosie had at least a third reliable pitch.

Oh, on the other hand, *does* have a third reliable pitch, as he uses his three main pitches relatively regularly. the batters can’t just sit out the change-ups and wait for the heater because he might sneak a slider in. It’s just one pitch, but it makes a huge difference. Plus he’s closed (300+ saves across the ocean) so it’s not like you can say he hasn’t pitched in such situations.

Yes, Oh will likely get more innings in a setup man role, but this post was simply about who you’d trust more in the highest leverage situation possible, and I think I’d trust Oh more, not Rosenthal.

Quick Hits:

1) This is cool. Jennie Finch Managed A Minor League Team.

2) I like to see players having fun out there, after all, it’s just a game.

3) Our old friend Tony La Russa got upset.


As always, tahnks for reading, and enjoy your Memorial Day.



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Last updated: 10/06/2022