2014 Fantasy Baseball Sleeper: Trevor Rosenthal
Trevor Rosenthal will finish the season as a top 3 closer in the league. This is a bold prediction for a pitcher who prefers to be a starter and who may be one day. Rosenthal ended 2013 as the Cardinals closer and had a tremendous postseason, posting an ERA of 0.00 in 11.2 innings while striking out 18. Opponents hit a measly .108 against him on his way to 4 saves and 1 win. Before becoming closer, he was one of the most dominant 8th inning setup men in baseball. In 2013, his fastball averaged 96.4 mph which led to a 12.90K/9 and 2.39 BB/9. Rosenthal topped out at 101.4 according to PITCH f/x. He threw 77 pitches of 100mph or more, 4th in MLB. He finished with 29 holds, 4th most in all of baseball. Rosenthal did have 1 blemish on his stat line last year and that was 5 blown saves. I will attribute that to throwing too many fastballs in the zone and a ridiculously high BABIP of .341.
Even with this high a BABIP, he still posted respectable numbers of 2.63 ERA and 1.10 WHIP. Look, he pitches for one of the better teams in the NL and there were 64 save opportunities last year which put them 11th in baseball. The Cardinals also lost 16 1-run games. If they can change 8 to the other way, that is 8 more save chances. There will be plenty of opportunities for him to close out games for the Cardinals.
Who is Trevor Rosenthal and where did he come from? Krypton? Nope, he is actually a homegrown product from Lee’s Summit, MO and believe it or not was discovered as a SS playing for Cowley County Community College in Arkansas City, Kansas. He was discovered by a St. Louis scout after just starting to pitch for Cowley. He stands at 6’2”and weighs 220 lbs, and he looks intimidating on the mound. He throws mostly fastballs but will mix in his curve to keep hitters off balance. With the movement his fastball generates, Rosenthal challenges hitters, throwing 68% strikes.
He flew through the St. Louis minor league system, which as you know is loaded with pitching talent. Groomed as a starter in the minor leagues, Rosenthal posted a 22-14 record with a 3.53 ERA and struck out 293 hitters in 285.1 minor league innings. He has the makings of a great starter, but when you have a loaded deck like the Cardinals, you keep Rosenthal as the closer because, well, you can.
The Cardinals will once again be the favorite in a competitive National League Central. They are confident in the 23-year-old flame thrower, as they should be. They have a strong bullpen in front of him with Kevin Siegrist, Jason Motte and Carlos Martinez (if he doesn’t make the rotation). With this bullpen and the offense they have, I expect Rosenthal to get plenty of chances. At the end of the season Rosenthal will be pushing 50 saves and close to 100 strikeouts, putting him right at the top with Kimbrel, Jensen and Chapman.
Where Should Rosenthal be Drafted
Where should you draft him? Depends on your view of the save category. If you wait, you won’t get Rosenthal. Once the first closer gets picked, there is usually a run of the elite closers. In mock drafts, I’ve seen him go as high as 65 and low as 200. I have no problem reaching for an elite closer but I think 65 is too high. He will have the job all season, which helps him gain value. I’m using a keeper pick on Rosenthal in my home league in the 13th round in a 14 team league. I approve of reaching for Rosenthal and you will not be disappointed. Look for him around pick 115-125 and pick him with confidence. My projections for Rosenthal look like Greg Holland’s stats from 2013, which would put him in the elite category of closers.
2014 Projection: 71 IP, 4W, 46 SV, 96 K, 2.19 ERA, 1.04 WHIP