Evaluating Sueng-hwan Oh as our closer…

As you all know, a while back the Cardinals replaced a struggling Trevor Rosenthal with Sueng-hwan Oh, a Korean IFA we signed on the off-season.

So how has Oh performed so far?

In 11 save chances this year, he’s converted 9 while blowing 2. His ERA is currently 2.02

Rosenthal had 18 opportunities, blew 4. Slightly lower efficiency on Rosie’s part, but then there’s the ERA. Rosie had a 5.13 ERA this season, not exactly what you’d want in a closer, and a 3 run increase over his 2.10 ERA from last year. He’s currently on the DL with a right shoulder flexor strain.

Even before the injury though, Rosie had been struggling and I don’t think the cause was an injury. Rather I think the problem comes from the fact that Rosie is a thrower, not a pitcher.

Both pitchers are two pitch guys. Rosie uses a heater and a change-up, while Oh uses a heater and a slider.

Yes Rosie technically has more than two pitches, but he relies primarily on his heater. Whenever I’ve watched a Cards game and saw him pitch, he always seemed to have a “here’s my heater. hit it.” mentaility. While this approach can work (see Aroldis Chapman) and he can touch 100 MPH with the fastball, Rosie has control issues that can limit it’s effectiveness. This year he’s walked an astounding 7.3 batters per 9 innings. He’s also had issues with control in the past, though admittedly not this extreme. In 2014 for exampe, he walked 5.4 batters per 9 innings. Not exactly what you want to see from a closer. Rosie seemingly improved last year, lowering the ratio to 3.3, only to regress this year, leaving one to wonder if he’ll ever permanently solve the problem.

Oh, by contrast hadn’t walked more than 2.1 batters per 9 innings since 2011 in the foreign leagues he played in, and currently has a ratio of 2.2 BB/9 innings. He’s also more of a pitcher, varying the speed of his two pitches depending on the situation and making it seem like he has more than just 2 pitches. Admittedly his velocity is lower than Rosie’s (his heater averages 92-93 MPH) but I think his smarts make up for that.

Which would you rather have? A predictable flamethrower who’s control varies year by year, or a savvy veteran with consistent control?

Quick Hits:

1) A Redbird Rants post that analyzes Oh in more detail.

2) Here’s one way to celebrate your 25th birthday.

3) What is it with Giants’ players and facial injuries this week?


As always, thanks for reading.

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