For the fifth 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.
This year’s Exit Interview series is “being brought to you by” some of the various Cardinal podcasts that are out there for your listening pleasure. Our focus this time is Double Birds Podcast. Chase and El Maquino, joined occasionally by guests, cast a sometimes critical but always informed eye on all things Cardinals. Find them on iTunes or check out Chase’s blog.
Player: Trevor Rosenthal
Season stats: 2-4, 14 SV, 4.46 ERA, 45 games, 40.1 IP, 48 H, 29 BB, 56 K, 1.909 WHIP, 3.72 FIP, -0.0 bWAR
Hero/Goat: Goat 5
Overall grade: D
Positives: Ended the year with a five inning scoreless streak, highlighted by three scoreless and effective frames on the next-to-last day of the year….limited hitters to a .254 average on the road and had a 3.31 ERA away from Busch Stadium….hitters had an OPS of .653 against him in the second half, almost two hundred points lower than the first half….had a 2.25 ERA in April and a 2.00 ERA in May….if batters swung at the first pitch they hit .237….they also hit .250 if they hit the first pitch….limited hitters to a .211/.312/.239 line if he got to two strikes….with two outs, batters hit .213….a bit surprisingly, batters only hit .174 with runners in scoring position, though they had a .377 OBP….with two outs and RISP, opponent’s OPS was .460….did not allow an earned run in six innings against the Cubs.
Negatives: Lost his closer job in June, with a three-run, no-outs performance in the ninth against Seattle being the final straw….indicated before possibly being demoted to the minors at the end of July that he had been in pain since the first week of the season….walked four more batters in 2016 than 2015, even though he threw 28 fewer innings….his control against lefties was especially bad, as his K/BB rate against them was 1.24….batters hit .317 against him at home….he allowed a .303 BAA in the first half….batters had a 1.024 OPS against him in June, which is why he had a 9.90 ERA for the month….batters had an OPS of 2.548 against him in his four losses….if batters took the first pitch, they hit .324….batters had a .325 BA and a .800 OPS leading off an inning against him….he allowed a .957 OPS in high-leverage situations.
Overview: Honestly, the negatives portion of this post probably could have gone on for a significantly longer period of time. Rosenthal, who was so good in 2015, reverted back to his wild ways and then some, hacking away at the rock-solid bullpen the Cardinals thought they had established. You wonder how the season would have gone–again, when there is such a small difference between where they finished and getting into the playoffs, you second-guess a lot of things–if he would have reported his injury earlier on. Would they have turned to Seung-hwan Oh sooner? Would he have been able to go on the DL earlier and get healed up? Would the Cardinals have won 2-3 more games and snuck into October? There are a lot of questions, but no real good answers.
All we know is that Rosenthal looked atrocious most of the year, went on the disabled list, and was a bit sharper when he came back. He allowed one run in September, and while he did walk two in seven innings he also struck out eight over that span. It’s enough to give you some hope that Rosenthal might be more like the Cracklin’ Rosie that we’ve seen before rather than the Ring-Around-The-Rosie we saw last season.
Outlook: The three inning stint on October 1, combined with the way especially Andrew Miller was used in the playoffs, has the Cardinals talking about using him in that “fixer” (to use Derrick Goold’s term) role, where he could come in pretty much whenever and throw a couple of innings, keeping the game from getting out of hand. I’m still somewhat skeptical that such bullpen usage can work in the regular season, especially with a guy like Matheny who hasn’t shown a particular aptitude for ‘pen usage. Even if Rosenthal just winds up as the eighth inning guy, though, if he’s more in tune with what we saw when he was racking up 45 saves, that back of the bullpen gets to be ridiculously solid.