ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- Trevor Rosenthal’s fastball is on fire in 2017. The former closer, who in 2015 set the franchise single-season save record (48), is a man reborn.
Through 6.1 innings, he’s struck out 13, and allowed just two runs.
His dominance is a continuation of his spring performance, but his fastball is a blast from the past. Thursday, the 26-year-old hit 102 miles per hour on the gun, one of the fastest pitches of the season across the entire league.
While it represents a benchmark for Rosenthal (it’s one of just a handful of pitches he’s ever thrown that reaches that speed), it’s a representation of his prowess in 2017. The Missouri native is throwing harder than he’s ever thrown before.
So far this season, Rosenthal is averaging the second-fastest fastball in the majors. His average four-seam velocity is 99.1, just a hair behind Aroldis Chapman’s 99.4. The next closest pitcher, Tommy Kahnle, is a full mile per hour slower.
Couple that with an evolving change and a power breaking ball, and Rosenthal is far from the forgotten man many thought him to be in 2016.
Big City spray
“It’s a Tough league [when you] get three hits and you get pinch-hit for,” Mike Matheny said Thursday.
He was talking about Matt Adams, who had two doubles and a single with two RBIs. Adams started the game at first base, and spent his three trips to the plate eating Toronto pitching alive.
“I think it just shows me that my timing was where it needed to be that game. I was staying on my backside and letting the ball get to where it needed to get to for me to swing at it,” he said. “This was a game where I picked up the ball pretty well.”
Adams sent all three hits to the opposite field, reinforcement of the concept that he’s an adaptable hitter. His slow start in 2017 is in line with the larger context of the offense, but his breakout Thursday is a reminder the big lefty is more than an afterthought. He has value as a pinch hitter, but as the Cardinals struggle to find positional consistency, Adams seems to continually force his way into consideration for steady at bats.
Wainwright wobbly, but wins
After an extra-inning game to open Thursday’s double header, the Cardinals desperately needed a deep start from Adam Wainwright. The veteran delivered, leaning on a six-run performance from the offense to finish six innings.
While he looked in control early, an ugly fifth inning derailed what appeared to be a statement-making start for the 35-year-old.
“I was one pitch away right there from pitching at least seven,” Wainwright said, referring to the cutter Kendrys Morales hit over the wall for a three-run homer. “I make the pitch I want to, I’m going to go at least seven innings.”
Wainwright’s cutter has been an issue this season, a continuation of the struggles he had with it in spring.
At times, the pitch looks exactly like the change-of-pace offering he’s relied on to split the difference between his curve and his fastball. Other times, it’s been flat and eminently hittable.
Still, he believes Thursday was another step forward as he pursues a return to comfort on the bump.
“Not as many 3-2 counts today, I walked one guy and had a couple 3-2 counts, but other than that, 0-1 on a lot of guys today. I can still be better. I want to take that and continue to build off it. There’s a lot more in the tank,” he said. “My fastball has been getting better location-wise and my curveball is coming around nicely. I threw some good changeups too. I just have to keep building.”
Despite the blowup inning, Wainwright picked up the win, his second of the year. He did enough to get through six innings, which gave the bullpen minimal ground to cover.