When a pitcher is a very good for a decent amount of time, and then he stops being good, everyone looks for answers. That has been the case thus far this season for Trevor Rosenthal. He was one of the best relievers in baseball just last season, and this year his walks have skyrocketed and his effectiveness has been poor even as he kept his velocity. Is Rosenthal hurt? The Cardinals are now saying he is, putting him on the disabled list due to shoulder discomfort and have called up Dean Kiekhefer to take his place.
The Cardinals also called up Sam Tuivailala as the 26th man for the second game of the doubleheader today. This is a situation where it is tough to know what is actually going on. Rosenthal was ineffective and trouble locating his pitches, but he still threw them near 100 mph and has both good and bad days out of the pen this year.
In the past, we have seen John Mozeliak prevent Mike Matheny from misusing players who could not be relied upon by making a roster move, but this is not likely that type of situation. Matheny had been blundering for quite some time with Rosenthal and put him in important games after removing him from the closer role, but that seemed to have dissipated of late, and even Matheny seemed to acknowledge that Rosenthal was not ready for important situations.
Perhaps it was that acknowledgement that Rosenthal just wasn’t getting right and Rsoenthal’s difficulty in his second inning of work on Sunday cemented the belief that what was wrong with Rosenthal wasn’t just mental or a mechanical issue, but something underlying. Perhaps they just want to give him a break and this is the excuse they needed. Certainly all pitchers have somewhat sore shoulders at this point in the season, and this is an excuse.
In any event, a good Rosenthal would go a long way toward fixing the Cardinals’ bullpen. The organization has tried letting him work things out at the major league level, and apparently, that patience has thinned. If this break gets him back to normal, then the DL stint will be well worth it. If this stint truly is related to a potential shoulder injury which eventually requires surgery, as a pitcher in arbitration and a high salary, Rosenthal’s future with the Cardinals could be tenuous. The Cardinals continue to search for answers, and it is unlikely to yield great results in the immediate future.