Feldman: Rosenthal gets first shot in 5th starter competition
St. Louis Cardinals prospect Trevor Rosenthal holds a baseball while posing for during the team's photo day at spring training baseball, Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013 in Jupiter, Fla. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) By Julio Cortez
It's early, in fact it's just the first game. And the fact Trevor Rosenthal was given the assignment of taking the ball in game one by no means he's ahead of the rest of the pack.
But you can't ignore the fact the 22-year old fireballer gets first crack at impressing Mike Matheny, GM John Mozeliak and the rest of the organization in his bid to replace Chris Carpenter in the starting rotation.
The Cards are looking for someone to take the bull by the horns and run away with this thing. It could be Rosenthal. It could be the slightly more experienced Joe Kelly. It could be hot shot prospect Shelby Miller.
Today, though, there's nothing Kelly or Miller can do but watch. Watch as Rosenthal has a chance to go out and show in his two innings (or 40 pitches) that he's going to be a force to be reckoned with these next few weeks.
Remember back in 2010 when the Cards had an open competition between Jaime Garcia and Kyle McClellan for the rotation? In fact, if anything, McClellan was the favorite given how Garcia was coming off missing a year after having Tommy John surgery. The organization preferred to send the lefty back to AAA-Memphis for a little more seasoning.
Garcia wasn't having it. He arrived early and was the best pitcher in camp. By far. He did what the Cards were hoping someone would do. Take the bull by the horns and run away with the competition.
That could happen again this year, you never know. Rosenthal has about as dynamic of an arsenal as any pitcher in this organization. His fastball reguarly touches 100 mph out of the bullpen and his curveball is terrific as well. Questions with him surround how well his third pitch - change up - will play at the big league level. Also how well he can maintain his velocity deep into games. Not everyone is Justin Verlander, throwing 100 mph in the seventh and eighth innings.
Who continues to get these starts in Grapefruit League games is going to be something to keep an eye on. Starting on Monday, the big four (Adam Wainwright, Jaime Garcia, Lance Lynn and Jake Westbrook) will need to start getting their turns in preperation for the season. So there won't be starts available for all three of the guys competing. Some will have to make their impressions out of the bullpen.
Right away, it's irrelevant who starts and who doesn't because no one has taken the lead yet. But as spring goes on? As Rosenthal, Miller and Kelly each take their shots at impressing? It'd be foolish to not guage the starting assignments as a way of getting a sense of what the team is thinking.
If March 23rd rolls around and Rosenthal is starting with Miller coming out of the 'pen? That's a pretty good indication as to what way the Redbirds are leaning.