Trevor Rosenthal and the Curse of the St. Louis Cardinals Closers


Trevor Rosenthal appears to be the latest St. Louis Cardinals pitcher to fall victim to the Cardinals closers over the past decade or so. As we watch another late-season implosion by a Cardinals closer, I’m starting to wonder if the Cardinals closers are cursed.

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This year, Rosenthal has 36 saves but he’s also 1-6 on the season with a 3.61 ERA. Pat Neshek has picked up four saves while Seth Maness has earned two saves.

At Fox Sports, Rob Neyer wonders if it is time for a closer change in St. Louis. As Neyer points out, Cardinals fans are concerned because the team is fighting for their lives right now. Just look at the last three appearances for Rosenthal: six walks and four runs allowed!

Mike Matheny knows how to handle pitching and he will handle Rosenthal appropriately,”said ESPN analyst Eric Wedge, who appears throughout the week on Baseball Tonight. “He needs to be supportive and communicative with him and nurse him through this tough stretch.”

This dates back to the 2006 season when Jason Isringhausen fell apart due to a hip problem. Isringhausen was shut down in mid-September and Adam Wainwright stepped into the closer’s role. Izzy had started off the season poorly with two losses and a blown save in his first five games of the year. He finished the season with a 4–8 record and 33 saves along with 10 blown saves. After offseason hip surgery, Izzy rebounded beautifully during the 2007 season but things began to unravel once more in 2008. Manager Tony La Russa removed Izzy as closer. He would leave the team in August due to lingering elbow tendinitis and a torn tendon.

This brings us to Ryan Franklin. Franklin took over from Izzy in 2008 and was selected for the 2009 All-Star Game before being rewarded with a two-year contract extension. Things unraveled early on for Franklin during the 2011 season. After blowing four saves in five opportunities to start the 2011 campaign, LaRussa removed Franklin as the team closer on April 19, 2011.

Nobody really took over the role for the rest of the 2011 season. True, Jason Motte would win it in the end and close out the Cardinals games in October and the 2012 season.

Here’s the 2011 season breakdown:
Fernando Salas: 24 saves
Jason Motte: 9 saves
Eduardo Sanchez: 5 saves
Mitchell Boggs: 4 saves

After Mike Matheny said he was the team’s official closer, Motte would lead the league with 42 saves during the 2012 season….but he was shut down in early 2013 before it was officially announced that he would miss the year with Tommy John Surgery.

With Motte on the DL, Boggs took over at the start of the 2013 season but it was never meant to be. The 8th inning guy in 2012, he wasn’t able to click in the role. In 14.2 innings pitched, Motte posted a 0-3 record with a 11.05 ERA in 18 appearances (10 games finished). After blowing Michael Wacha‘s debut on May 30, Boggs was sent down to Memphis and subsequently traded to the Colorado Rockies for an international signing bonus.

Edward Mujica eventually filled the role of closer. He earned 37 saves. Rosenthal earned 3 saves during the regular season and another five saves in the postseason.