Proper Bullpen management by Mike Matheny.
The St. Louis Cardinals have traditionally been built on good pitching including a solid bullpen. That isn’t going to change for the 2017 season considering it’ll be built around guys like Kevin Siegrist, Trevor Rosenthal, Seung-hwan Oh and newcomer Brett Cecil. But, the key to any good bullpen is management and that is something manager Mike Matheny hasn’t been great at. Matheny has done extremely well in managing the bullpen in some spots but then has done awful in others.
John Mozeliak has given him the tools to not make easy mistakes though. No matter who Matheny goes to in high-stress situations there shouldn’t be an issue considering they are all high-quality relievers. The only concern that remains is over-use considering guys like Siegrist were relied on almost every other day. But, if the starting pitching staff improves then that can take some responsibility out of Matheny’s hands.
Trevor Rosenthal bounces back.
Now this wish isn’t even that Trevor Rosenthal becomes the St. Louis Cardinals closer again, it’s just that he returns to form. Rosenthal went from one of the best closers/relievers in the league to a guy that couldn’t be trusted in 3-run games. However, we did see Rosenthal flash some brilliance in that extended relief appearance at the end of the season. It was so good that it actually warranted Matheny and Mozeliak to stretch Rosie out this offseason to be a multi-inning pitcher.
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In order to bounce back, Rosenthal just needs to find his control. His ERA more than doubled due to his BB/9 going from 3.3 to 6.5 while his H/9 went from 8.1 to 10.7 between the 2015 and 2016 seasons. However, his K/9 increased from 10.9 to 12.5 which is good to see but if he wasn’t striking the batter out, they were likely getting on base. Wishing Rosenthal bounces back is basically wishing he finds his control.
Seung-hwan Oh continues to be great.
Seung-hwan Oh had an incredible debut season in the major leagues and hopefully he can have a sophomore season without a slump. He was originally signed as a back-end reliever but ended up becoming the full-time closer with Rosenthal’s falling out. Oh was one of the best closers ever in the Korean and Japanese Leagues and he proved he could do it in the States after securing 19 saves in 23 opportunities and having a 1.92 ERA.
2017 will be a different challenge for him though. Teams have seen him in person and can now prepare for him more adequately. There is a reason the “sophomore slump” exists and if Oh experiences one, the rest of the bullpen may not be deep enough to make up for it. Wishing he can maintain positive production is essential for the team’s overall success in 2017.