There were so many people worried about Trevor Rosenthal earlier this season. He was a walking medical emergency on the mound. Walking batters. Creating big counts. Throwing a ton of innings. Rosenthal didn’t settle down until two men were on base and the count was full on batter #3. Some guys just can’t make it easy. That’s baseball. People forgot something with Rosenthal though. He was efficient. He got outs. He converted saves. After his league leading 32nd save today, Rosenthal has converted six saves in a row and lowered his ERA from 3.59 to 3.33 in that time period. Rosenthal is getting better and better with each passing week. His last blown save came when he pitched four out of five days and was slapped with the task of shutting down the Marlins on July 5th. Since then, the man has been aces.
Here’s something else to chew on. Rosenthal hasn’t walked a batter in 7 straight appearances and has 12 strikeouts in his last 10 outings. Sure, Rosenthal has surrendered hits during that time(8 hits in 9 innings) but I will take a hit over a free pass any day of the week. The important thing is that in his first full season as a closer, Rosenthal is thriving and doing a great job. That was lost on some people when he was struggling to find the strike zone in May. Rosenthal took over as the main closer in the last week of the 2013 season. Since the beginning of that Washington series, Rosenthal is 35-39 in saves. That’s pretty good.
When Rosenthal approached the mound, one could hear bombs going off on Twitter. “Oh no, here comes Rosenthal.” “Where’s the meds? Rosenthal is into the game.” Sure, the man does make things interesting, but judging by those tweets, you would think Jeff Brantley or Dave Veres were climbing the rubber and hoping hitters weren’t thinking straight that day. That’s the thing about Rosenthal. He has the kind of stuff that could start baseball games and end them. He has electrifying pitches and he doesn’t rely on luck like Brantley, Veres and Ryan Franklin did. Trevor can allow his defense to work or he can simply overpower the hitters with strikeouts. He has struck out the side for a save four different times this season. His strikeouts are climbing towards a 3-1 ratio(62 to 26) and if he keeps up the rate of the past two weeks, they will reach that mark before the mid point of August.
Rosenthal does like to light a fire around the pitching mound when he tries to save a game, but he is talented enough to supply his own extinguisher. When Jason Motte went down with elbow surgery in March of 2013, chaos ensued. Mitchell Boggs erupted and Edward Mujica saved the day until batted ball in play luck doomed his chances. Rosenthal stepped in and blew the competition away. In 2014, he needed a little time to catch his breath and set his feet. It took him two full months to settle in and become great. Throughout the whole season, he has been good. Now, he becoming dominant.
Rosenthal’s fielding independent ERA is 2.74 and his opponent batting average is .225. Hitters have only reached him for 1 home run in 48.2 innings. His innings load may be high but as long as his efficiency grows, leave your worries elsewhere.
The future is bright. Rosenthal is doing this for 521,000 dollars this season and isn’t arbitration eligible until 2016. He is represented by Scott Boras, but the Cards won’t have to worry about paying up for a couple years unless John Mozeliak seizes the moment and convinces Rosenthal and Boras to sign a sheet with guaranteed dollars on it. The young Lee’s Summit, Missouri product is only 24 years old and will probably tell you he still wants to start baseball games.
For the time being, he is doing one heck of a job closing them down.