Are Cardinals Making Right Decision Leaving Trevor Rosenthal in Closer Role?

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Are Cardinals Making Right Decision Leaving Trevor Rosenthal in Closer Role?
(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Trevor Rosenthal fires home in Game 6 of the World Series against the Red Sox.

The Cardinals made it known that Trevor Rosenthal will remain their closer in 2014.

After taking over for the fatigued and broken down Edward Mujica, Rosenthal, 23, was phenomenal in the second half of the 2013 season and the postseason.

The hard-throwing Rosenthal was unhittable. He routinely made opposing hitters look foolish as they whiffed at his 98-plus mph heat.

That said, are the Cardinals making the right decision by keeping Rosenthal as their late-inning stopper?

All together now…yes.

Surely, there will be those that say Rosenthal isn't up to the challenge. He’s too young, too green for such a daunting task. He isn't physically and mentally ready for such a challenge, you say?

Allow me to jog your memory and ease any lingering nerves.

Last season, Rosenthal made 74 appearances. In his 75.1 innings of work, he gave up 63 hits and allowed just 22 earned runs. His 108 strikeouts were the third-most by any reliever. Only Cincinnati’s Aroldis Chapman (112) and the Dodgers’ Kenley Jansen (111) recorded more strikeouts than Rosenthal.

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Moreover, in the eighth inning or later, Rosenthal tallied 99 strikeouts.

Opposing hitters wouldn't fair much better against Rosenthal if they used an oar instead of a bat.

If Rosenthal’s regular season performance doesn't spark your interest, then his postseason encore should do the trick.

Rosenthal was flawless during the Cardinals’ run to the World Series. In 11.2 innings, Rosenthal allowed just four hits (three singles and a triple) and struck out 18.

In the Fall Classic against Boston, Rosenthal allowed one hit in his 4.2 innings of work. He struck out nine.

There’s been talk of inserting Rosenthal into the starting rotation, something Rosenthal is open to. But the obvious need for his services in the bullpen outweigh everything else.

"This is a touchy topic in the fact that we know Trevor would like to start and be a starter someday,” Mike Matheny told Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “And we don’t deny the fact that that could realistically happen and he would do a terrific job at it. … When you look at our club and what we have … we have need for that bullpen … all based around our closer. We have a lot of confidence in how he has been able to handle that position."

Jason Motte throws a pitch home in Game 3 of the NLCS against the Giants in 2012.

There’s also the Jason Motte factor.

Motte, who missed all of last season recovering from Tommy John surgery, will be ready to go in 2014. Motte recorded 42 saves in 2012. He’s more than capable of resuming his old role.

But let’s be honest; Rosenthal makes Motte look pedestrian, so to speak. Rosenthal’s stuff is downright filthy. I’m not taking anything away from Motte. His stuff is also nasty. But Rosenthal is more developed. Also, how good would the Cardinals’ late-inning relief look if Motte worked the eighth and Rosenthal the ninth?

It would be unfair.

So, why would the Cardinals alter a promising and working formula?

No reason. Leaving Rosenthal in the same spot he finished 2013 is the right move.

“Right now there is no reason to go anywhere differently than how we ended,” Matheny told Goold of the Post-Dispatch. “Trevor Rosenthal is a guy who is going in there getting the saves for us. That’s how we’re heading into this spring.”

 

 

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