Stop me if you've heard this one before--guy spends most of the season as a setup man, then the incumbent closer struggles, opening the door for him to take over.
Back in 2011, that guy was Jason Motte. This year, that guy appears to be Trevor Rosenthal.
First, a bit of history. Back in 2011, the Cardinals were struggling to find a closer after incumbent Ryan Franklin imploded in April. The Cardinals tried a few different guys, such as Mitchell Boggs and Eduardo Sanchez, before Fernando Salas stepped up and took hold of the job.
Salas was very good as the Cards closer, with only 3 blown saves in 25 tries through August 11th. However, a couple blown saves in a row and some excellent pitching by Motte, who threw 33 consecutive scoreless innings, led manager Tony Larussa to make the change.
Motte earned his first save on August 28th. He finished the season with 9 and was the Cardinals closer throughout the playoffs and World Series.
Fast forward to 2013 and it appears that Rosenthal is in the same boat.
The Cardinals lost Motte to TJ surgery in April and scrambled to find a replacement. They tried Mitchell Boggs (again) before Edward Mujica stepped up and claimed the role.
Mujica was excellent for the Cards for most of the season, saving 35 games with only two blown saves through the end of August. However, general fatigue has led to general ineffectiveness for Mujica and he has blown 2 of 4 saves in September, leading Matheny to indicate that he would go with a closer by committee.
Enter Rosenthal, who came on last night to record a 2-out save, the first of his career, and has the stuff to take hold of the role and never let go.
Although Matheny is saying that he is going with a committee approach, I would be shocked if Rosenthal is not "the guy".
The last 5 games of the season could be his trial period and, if he succeeds, look for Rosenthal to be closing in the postseason.