St. Louis Cardinals Best/Worst Case 2016: Trevor Rosenthal
Best Case: Rosenthal saves more than 50 games, improves even more
The best case scenario for Rosenthal is that he comes out and improves upon last season by beating his own Cardinals record and saving 50 plus games in 2016. It’s hard to imagine Rosenthal improving upon last season’s numbers, but there is actually some room for growth.
Walks continue to be an issue at times for the 25-year old. In his first season closing for St. Louis in 2014, Rosenthal amassed a 5.4 walks per nine. For those who don’t remember, watching Rosenthal close out games in 2014 called for a couple of beers and plenty of nail biting when the ninth inning rolled around and the Cardinals were only up by a couple of runs. Rosenthal also posted a 1.41 WHIP in 2014, which makes it even more remarkable that the righty was able to close out 45 games. What has saved Rosenthal is the strikeout. Rosy had an 11.1 SO/9 racking, up 87 strikeouts in 70.1 IP.
The good news is Rosenthal did cutdown his free passes in 2015. Rosy walked 25 batters last year compared to 42 in 2014, which was good for a 3.3 BB/9 compared to 5.4 the year before. While he has made progress, the best case scenario for Rosenthal in 2016 is to lower that 3.3 BB/9 to well under 3.0. Of the five closers who saved 40 or more games in 2015, only one had a BB/9 higher than Rosenthal — Brad Boxberger of the Tampa Bay Rays. Pittsburgh Pirates closer Mark Melancon led all of baseball last season with 51 saves, and part of what made the 30-year old so dominant was a stellar 1.64 BB/9.
Now, I’m not discrediting Rosenthal. Of those top five closers last season, Rosy had the highest K/9 with 10.88. Strikeouts are a fantastic weapon, and they have gotten Rosenthal out of trouble when he’s walked a batter or two. Still, it’s not rocket science. The best closers in the game are stingy at walking batters. Plus, if Rosenthal can cut down on the walks even more in 2016, then his 1.27 WHIP from last season (which is still a bit higher than you’d like from your closer) will drop down.
Fifty plus saves would be great, but if Rosenthal can reach that number while also posting a sub 3.0 BB/9 and a sub 1.20 WHIP, then that would be the best case scenario for the young closer in 2016.
So, what is the worst case scenario for Rosenthal?
Next: Worst Case: The Rosy Train Derails