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The St. Louis Cardinals are one of the only teams in the division with very few players to pick from. Their roster is stacked with All-Stars, but they do have some young talent coming through the system. Between Trevor Rosenthal, Shelby Miller and Pete Kozma, Rosenthal looks like the best bet to have a breakout season.
The right-hander was a part of the late-game meltdown against the Cincinnati Reds on Monday (game recap courtesy of MLB.com), but he has plenty of talent to be a big factor this season.
Closer Mitchel Boggs blew only three saves in 37 chances in 2012, but he failed to convert his first opportunity this season. He has also allowed at least one run in two of his four appearances. If he continues to struggle, the Cardinals could decide to make Rosenthal the closer.
In 22.2 innings last season, Rosenthal held hitters to a .175 average and walked only seven batters.
St. Louis needed solid pitching in the playoffs, and Rosenthal delivered despite only being with the team since July. In 8.2 innings in the postseason, he allowed two hits and walked only one while striking out 15 hitters without allowing a run. He went five consecutive appearances without allowing a hit and struck out at least one batter per appearance when he faced more than just one hitter.
Rosenthal has been charged with two blown saves already this season, but he hasn't been given the chance to close out a game. He has seven strikeouts to only one walk in five innings this season, so he is showing good command early in his career.
The 22 year old can hit 100 mph, and he has averaged 97.4 mph during his short career, according to FanGraphs. Once he can throw his breaking pitches for strikes more consistently, he will be tough to hit.
Rosenthal will probably be a starter at some point in the future, but he has a chance to be a shutdown reliever this season. If Boggs continues to struggle, Rosenthal could find himself getting a chance to close.
No matter what his role is, this hard-throwing youngster is going to have a big season in 2013.