Friday, March 8, 2013

Trevor Rosenthal is a reliever, but for how long?

After his stellar performance last year as a reliever both down the stretch during the regular season and during the playoffs, Trevor Rosenthal will be returning to the pen this year. 

But, is this a career change for Rosenthal or just a temporary assignment?

As we have seen previously with Adam Wainwright and Lance Lynn, the Cardinals have no qualms about using one of their stud righthanders in the bullpen to get their initial big league experience and then converting them back to a starter later. 

However, given the Cardinals seemingly endless supply of young, hard-throwing pitching prospects, maybe this time the move might be permanent.

For this season, the Cardinals will have either Joe Kelly or Shelby Miller man the 5th starter spot and, given the way he has pitched this spring, Michael Wacha will likely be the first starter recalled from AAA when needed. 

Assuming that a slimmer Lance Lynn can withstand the rigors of an entire season and Jaime Garcia's shoulder doesn't start barking at him, there should be no need to use Rosenthal in the rotation.

Next year though, things get a little murkier.

Jake Westbrook will become a free agent and, unless they can get an extension ironed out soon, Wainwright could head in that direction as well.  If the Cards have just one hole to fill, then the loser of this year's Kelly/Miller competition will likely compete with Wacha for that spot.  However, if they have two holes to fill, then all bets are off and you will probably see Carlos Martinez and Rosenthal enter the fray.  And don't forget about control freak Seth Maness--you know the guy with the incredible 112/10 K/BB ratio last year.

The Cardinals could also look to trade some of this excess pitching for an area of need (shortstop), which could also clear the path for Rosenthal to return to starting.

So, just because Rosenthal's being relegated to the pen this year, doesn't mean that's his final destination.  It just gives the Cardinals more time to sort it all out.

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