It's a little bit disturbing to see St. Louis Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal give up a game-losing homer Tuesday to a guy with 10 career games under his belt in the major leagues.
Sure, it's early in spring training. But the homer came after Rosenthal walked a hitter with one out. Then he fell behind 3-0 and then 3-1, a pattern unfortunately similar to his struggles getting behind hitters and then becoming predictable which plagued his 2014 season. Also similar to last year: His once dominant fastball was handled by a relatively unaccomplished opposing player.
Even if Rosenthal's fastball hasn't hit its groove yet and his control isn't sharp because he's just getting started for the 2015 campaign, he needs to take charge of the way he attacks hitters. He seemed last year to lack confidence in his stuff, getting in trouble by trying to nibble when he ought to be able to own hitters with a heater nearing 100 mph and a devastating change-up.
There is little, if any, difference in his physical abilities now than in 2012 and 2013 when he carved up hitters as if they were little leaguers. He's just a kid. It's not as if he's on the wrong side of 30 and he needs to reinvent himself because of decreased velocity.
I was hoping to see a clear change when Rosenthal got into game action in 2015 to indicate that he closed the door on a frustrating 2014. That it was just a bad season that was behind him. But, with his approach Tuesday even more than with his results, that doesn't seem to be the case so far. He seemed to still be grasping for something.
Rosenthal needs to be a fearless gunslinger to be his best. He has the stuff to justify confidence that if he misses his spot over the place he can still get a swing and a miss. I think he needs to pitch angry instead of pitching afraid. After all, who do these hitters think they are to dig in against him? Can we lock Rosenthal in a room with Bob Gibson for a few hours, please?
Giving batters too much respect gives them a tremendous advantage -- as long as they're smart enough to lay off the offerings out of the strike zone. And the word is out that Rosenthal likes to nibble.
I'm a huge Rosenthal fan. I think he could be the best closer in baseball. He just needs to harness his potential. I don't want to hear any more about how he'd really like to be a starter when the Cardinals have to order him to pitch only from the stretch to refine his control. That doesn't fly with a starting pitcher.
If he ever wants to get a shot at the rotatio, Rosenthal needs to show that he's too good to limit to one inning at a time, not that he can't handle the closer job so he needs to find a new role.