Through adversity Neshek and Rosenthal remain strong
(Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) By Dilip Vishwanat
ST. LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 13: Pat Neshek #37 and Yadier Molina #4 both of the St. Louis Cardinals celebrate after defeating 5-4 at Busch Stadium on September 13, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images) By Michael B. Thomas
ST. LOUIS (BaseballStL)--Pat Neshek and Trevor Rosenthal know how to deal with the ups and downs of a 162 game regular season. They've shown this postseason that the playoffs are no different.
Neshek and Rosenthal pitched scoreless eighth and ninth innings in the Cardinals' final two victories over the Los Angeles Dodgers, bouncing back from rough outings to begin the series that included a loss from Neshek in game 2 of the NLDS and a near blown save from Rosenthal in game 1.
Their styles on the mound couldn't be more contradictory. Neshek's herky-jerky movements and low 90's fastball make him unlike any other pitcher in the game today. Rosenthal is the typical flamethrower that's now the norm in major league bullpens, but seems to benefit from Neshek's peculiar motion.
Despite different deliveries, their confidence and comfortability on the mound could not be more similar.
Both relievers acknowledged the ups and downs of their seasons and careers before the deciding game 4 on Tuesday.
"I'm really proud of what I've been able to do. Last year at this time I was with the Oakland A's and we got to October first and they said we're not gonna (probably) use you this playoffs and that kind of fired me up," said Neshek. "I was driving back and watching all of my teammates play and it wasn't fun."
The season before Neshek dealt with even more adversity, losing his son Gehrig John Neshek just 23 hours after his birth during the 2012 ALDS against the Detroit Tigers. Neshek pitched briefly in the Athletics 3-1 loss to Detroit just days after the death, but admitted that the playoffs are coming with less anxiety this time around.
Neshek recognized that the two-year anniversary of Gehrig's death was a week ago and admitted that "It's nice to just have a normal playoff".
For Rosenthal, it was a much different type of adversity.
When asked of being overlooked in the 2009 MLB draft - taken in 21st round - Rosenthal acknowledged that it's easy to overlook a pitcher that primarily played third base and shortstop and threw only a little more than ten collegiate innings.
Despite struggling with control issues all season, Rosenthal compiled 45 saves, second only to Craig Kimbrel of the Atlanta Braves. Now, Rosenthal says he's ready for the pressure of postseason baseball, something he showed by going 3-for-3 in save opportunities in the NLDS.
"This is what it's all about, being here and being in these situations. I joke with my wife at times about having the bases loaded with no outs and a one run lead and wanting to be out there," said Rosenthal. "That's what we dream about is being in the tough situations."
With the Cardinals four games away from the World Series, the pairing is sure to face many more stressful situations, but they seem more than capable of anchoring a Cardinals team now favored to win the National League.