(BaseballStL) -- Trevor Rosenthal will battle Joe Kelly and Shelby Miller this spring for the job of fifth starter in the Cardinals rotation. He might not win the job, but not because the other two are better pitchers. It's because Rosenthal was absolutely lights out last year in the bullpen. Mike Matheny may decide he doesn't want to fix something that isn't broken. Having Rosenthal in the pen is a nice luxury to have.
Rosenthal burst onto the major league scene last year as a 22 year old rookie throwing 100 mile an hour fastballs. He'd been groomed as a starter in the minors, but adapted well in the bullpen when the Cardinals needed him there down the stretch. He appeared in 19 games in the regular season and had a 2.78 era. In the postseason he was even better. He pitched 8.2 innings in the playoffs, struck out 15, and allowed exactly zero runs. There wasn't another reliever in baseball with better postseason numbers than that.
Rosenthal told me this morning that he was always a position player growing up as a kid. He loved to play shortstop and third base, and was a very good hitter. But as he got to high school his arm was so strong his coach put him on the pitchers mound, and the rest is history. Rosenthal told me one of the reasons he'd love to win a job as a starting pitcher is because he'd get to hit. He didn't get any at bats last year as a relief pitcher. He may lose some of his zeal for hitting if he ever steps into the box against another pitcher who throws as hard as he does.