The Cardinals decided last fall that they’d stretch out Rosenthal this spring to increase the ways in which he could fit on the roster. Most expected this would still lead to Rosenthal returning to the bullpen, but, given these recent developments, Rosenthal will also be considered as a starter.
“It’s interesting,” Rosenthal said of the opportunity. “I try not to view it as a great thing or a bad thing. I have to pitch well and then everything will take care of itself. … Coming up as a starter, I just really loved the routine of it. I loved that competition of pitching deep into the game.”
Rosenthal hasn’t started since 2012, when he was still in the Minors. By the end of the following season, he had become the Cardinals’ closer, a job Rosenthal retained until midway through ’16.
That ninth-inning job belongs to Seung Hwan Oh, and that prompted the Cardinals to think of new ways to utilize Rosenthal. Liking what they saw of him in a three-inning appearance last September and intrigued by the unconventional roles late-inning relievers took on in the postseason, the Cards wanted to add to Rosenthal’s versatility.
“Let’s see what it looks like,” manager Mike Matheny said. “Maybe it is a different opportunity.”
Key for Rosenthal will be rediscovering his command and showing a more versatile arsenal of pitches. His walk rate soared to 6.5 per nine innings last year, though Rosenthal believes that was one of the detrimental effects of pitching through a shoulder injury.
As a reliever, Rosenthal relied almost entirely on his fastball and changeup. To handle a role in which he’d face hitters multiple times, Rosenthal would need to incorporate at least one other pitch into that mix. He does have a curveball and cutter in his repertoire.
“Having command of the strike zone, commanding the fastball, different approaches to different types of hitters, it’s being an all-encompassing pitcher,” Rosenthal said. “I think guys who have been around have learned how to change on a certain day depending on what kind of stuff they feel they have. That’s one area I’ll work at growing in.”
Source: Jennifer Langoach