St. Louis Cardinals: The Importance Of Spring Training To Trevor Rosenthal
By Trevor Hooth
Spring Training is drawing closer. With it comes the questions about how the St. Louis Cardinals new pieces will fit together and how they will fare in the NL-Central this year.
There has already been the announcement that Trevor Rosenthal‘s role will change for the St. Louis Cardinals. This means that from the time pitchers and catchers report on February 13th, it is time to shine for the former closer. His performance will dictate exactly what his role will be. The only thing known for sure about it is that he will not be the closer.
The role will perhaps be revealed when games start this spring. This could involve whether he gets extended out to get starter innings or if he will get work as a reliever. Though he won’t be in the rotation, his ability to throw over multiple innings will be beneficial in his work from the bullpen. It will allow him to mirror the role shown by Andrew Miller of the Indians during the post season.
Another possibility could be as a replacement should the aging body of Adam Wainwright breaks down. Should that be the future of Rosy, this spring is essential for him. He needs to be able to prove that he can get batters out during the second time through the lineup. That could prove to be quite the challenge for him.
He has been about as close to a one-trick-pony as a pitcher can be. And why not? It was working well enough before losing the closer job. Before losing the job, Rosenthal was 86 percent on converting save opportunities.
A weakness for Rosenthal is his reliance on the fastball which can present itself more prominently when throwing over multiple innings. He needs to be able to develop at least a secondary pitch to even have a chance. Most likely, rather of paramount importance, he will need confidence in two additional pitches, not just one.
It is hard to tell how much the rotator cuff injury last year affected Rosenthal’s control, but that is a huge question surrounding him. He looked better in September in his seven innings after coming off the disabled list walking only two batters, which is promising. It will be imperative for his head to be in the right place as he goes through the transition.
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That is why this spring training will be so important. Rosenthal will need to show his composure through change. He will also need to prove he has the confidence in his secondary pitches to lessen the frequency he uses his fastball. His second most used pitch is his changeup at 14.9 percent for his career. That will most likely be the next pitch developed, followed by his cutter.
Because of these things, Rosenthal will best serve in a setup role in 2017. He may get extended during the spring, but that will just open him up to versatility of use, not success. If he eventually becomes a starter, he will need more time to develop that confidence. In turn, that confidence will create success for him in an extended role.
His role and his confidence will become apparent in his spring training outings. He needs to establish his dominance again. Even if it is just preseason. The organization still believes he can do it, but he doesn’t have much time to prove it. They recently signed Rosenthal for 6.4 million dollars over one year to avoid arbitration.
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When the first game rolls around on February 25th, all these questions will be answered (maybe). The uncertainty Rosenthal has been facing since the first announcement of a role change will come to an end and that could ease his mind. If he is the Rosy of old, he will add a lot of choice to the bullpen of the St. Louis Cardinals.