Grounding Mike Matheny

Learn to speak Cardinal in just 4,500 easy lessons.
Learn to speak Cardinal and understand Matheny in just 4,500 easy lessons.

If watching Mike Matheny call for Trevor Rosenthal from the bullpen makes you want to kick inanimate objects and curse in languages you don’t know, then you may want to order something from Rosetta Stone.  Matheny has to play the Cards he’s been dealt, and Rosenthal remains in play.  I wholeheartedly encourage fans to blame Matheny for using Rosenthal in high leverage situations, because doing so seems to meet the practical definition of insanity.  He deserves criticism for expecting a different outcome.

Just stop giving Mozeliak and Co. a free pass.

Just as it’s Matheny’s job to put Rosenthal in position to succeed, it’s Mo’s job to do that for Matheny.  If you don’t want Matheny to play with a certain toy, then take it away.  Ground him from it.  Better yet, give him a better one or at least a different one while Rosenthal works on Rosenthal, and realize that may take a while.

I’m no expert, but I am observant, and what I observe is Rosenthal struggling to locate his fourseam and showing nothing in his secondary stuff that batters can’t eliminate.  That means batters can sit dead red against a fastball averaging 97.7 mph.  That’s down a tick from the 98.6 he averaged in 2015 but about the same as the 97.9 from 2014.  While I wouldn’t dismiss velocity as an issue or even a symptom of an issue, I think it can be set aside in favor of lower hanging fruit.

And by lower hanging fruit, I really mean his curveball.  It doesn’t actually do a lot of what the kids these days refer to as “curve”.  His average curveball moves less than 4″ horizontally and less than 2″ vertically (accounting for gravity).  While it certainly isn’t fair to compare his Uncle Charlie to Uncle Charlie’s Uncle Charlie, it does provide some perspective.  Wainwright gets nearly 10″ of horizontal movement with his curve, and 8.59″ of vertical movement (gravity adjusted).  Put another way, Rosenthal is throwing a shot put while Wainwright is tossing a Wiffleball.

Granted, Rosenthal rushes that shot put to the plate with significant haste (84.2 mph of haste actually).  Maybe that’s the problem.  From 2012 to 2015, Rosenthal threw 215 curveballs at an average of 81.5 mph.  He’s throwing the curve hard enough this season that it’s basically a soft slider at just 2 mph off his slider speed.  Does a short reliever who experienced great success as a fastball/changeup guy really need both a slider and a curve?

I don’t know that enough evidence exists to pin the blame on the Lilliquist donkey, and blame really isn’t the issue.  Responsibility is.  Someone has to be responsible for preventing Matheny from playing with his Rosenthal.  Ground him, Mo.  Spank him too, if you’re into that sort of thing.



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