With his recent struggles on the mound people are wondering: is St. Louis Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal elite? Or even should he be a closer at all? His number suggest one thing, but the eye test says something else.
Remember, last season he was 3-for-8 in save chances before the postseason, a postseason in which Rosenthal dominated.
This season Rosenthal has 36 saves, giving him the fourth-most saves in the major leagues. He sits at just under a 90 percent save average at an 87.8 percent ratio. You can then look at the season stats on all closers and see that of pitchers who started the year as closers, he has pitched the most innings of the group at 57.1 innings. For a second-year pitcher, that can be taxing on an arm. He has also pitched the second-most innings pitched on the Cardinals’ bullpen staff, trailing only Seth Maness.
But the question remains: is Rosenthal a top tier closer in this league? He gets saves, as mentioned only trailing Craig Kimbrel, Greg Holland, and Francisco Rodriguez. Yet of the top 20 closers (as rated by amount of saves), the average is 3.5 blown saves. He has five to his name so far, tied for second-worst. Of those top 20 closers, his ERA is fifth-worst at 3.61. And his WHIP (walks/hits per inning pitched), second-worst to only Joe Nathan.
So Trevor Rosenthal’s numbers say he is not an elite closer. Yet despite the stats, despite the blown saves, this is a second year-player with a cannon for an arm. His biggest issue spawns from one simple issue: his walks. His numbers are ugly, no doubt.
But consider this: in 2006 the Cardinals had Jason Isringhausen as their closer. He had 33 saves, 10 blown, 1.46 WHIP, and a 3.55 ERA. That was his worst year as a closer for the Cardinals, and they went on to win a World Series. The point is that no, as of right now, Trevor Rosenthal is not elite, but he is still a good closer. The most comparable closers in the league right now to him are the likes of Steve Cishek, Glen Perkins, and Fernando Rodney. None of them are top tier, but they are reliable.