Should We Be Concerned About Trevor Rosenthal?

Trevor Rosenthal did not have the best weekend against the Chicago Cubs. Nor is Rosenthal pitching like we’re become accustomed to seeing from him thus far in 2014, even after just 12 games.

TrevorRHe’s made six appearances, so it’s definitely still in the small sample-size category. But do we have reason to be concerned?

He has four saves — so if that’s what matters to you, then he’s just fine.

He has one loss, which came Friday night in the 11th inning to the Cubs. He retired the Cubs in order on six pitches in the 10th; was kept in the game to bat even with runners on first and second in the bottom of the inning; then gave up a lead-off double to Nate Schierholtz who was sacrificed to third, intentionally walked Starlin Castro, got the second out via a popped up bunt and then allowed a three-run homer to Welington Castillo before Darwin Barney lined out to right to end the inning. All of that on 16 pitches, for 22 total in the game.

Yesterday was another battle, as he entered the top of the ninth with the Cards up 6-3. A strikeout of Castro was followed with a triple by Junior Lake and a single by Mike Olt, then he hit Castillo. His command is not what it’s been previously, nor is his efficiency — he threw 25 pitches to get the save.

Also not what it’s been previously: his velocity. The average speed of his fastball this season is 96.11, according to Brooks Baseball. Last April it was 98.29, last October 98.23 and the lowest it’s ever been in a month is 97.76 last September. The hardest he’s thrown a pitch this season is 98 mph, and that was just once — yesterday when he hit Castillo. Otherwise, 97 is the max.

And obviously the results are different too. In 7 1/3 innings total, he’s allowed seven hits and six earned runs with eight strikeouts. The only time he’s faced the mininum three batters for a save was during the Cardinals 1-0 Opening Day victory in Cincinnati.

What’s bringing about the change? Is there an issue with his shoulder or his arm that’s not being mentioned?

Perhaps not surprisingly, there isn’t a lot of concern expressed so far from the Cardinals. Here’s what Mike Matheny had to say after yesterday’s game, according to Tom Timmermann in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

“You still see good life. I saw some better breaking pitches from the side. I need to see them on video, but from the side, it looked like some of his breaking pitches were better than what we’ve seen so far this year, which is encouraging. He just needs to get a little confidence going and make those tough pitches when he needs to.”

From Derek Lilliquist:

“The ball is coming out good,” pitching coach Derek Lilliquist said. “Our big three relievers are a tick down in terms of velocity. … He’s just unlucky in terms of a mistake here getting hit and a mistake there gets hit. For the most part today, he threw a couple of nice cutters. His changeup was there.”

And from Rosenthal himself:

“I felt good,” he said. “My arm’s felt good. I feel the same. I’m worried about throwing strikes. I’m not worried about the velocity.”

He might not be worried. But for the rest of us who’ve had to watch him thus far in 2014, it’s a bit of a different story — at least as far as the hittable pitches that are being thrown, and the results that follow.


Just a reminder that entries are being accepted for the giveaway of the 2011 World Series Game Six DVDs until tomorrow, April 15, at 7 p.m. Central Time. Details are here.


Christine Coleman is the lead writer for Aaron Miles’ Fastball. Follow her on Twitter, @CColeman802, or email aaronmilesfastball@gmail.com. Also follow @AMilesFastball for the latest updates and like AMF on Facebook if you don’t already.

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