TCN 2015 St. Louis Cardinals Reliever of Year

Closer Trevor Rosenthal is our hands-down selection as the St. Louis Cardinals’ top relief pitcher in 2015.

Often in the case of deciding these full-year awards, I do not settle on a winner until I look at the candidates’ stats through and through. A story can be built as one evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of each player over the course of the season.

So it was in 2014, when a surprise winner of our Relief Pitcher of the Year award emerged, set up man Pat Neshek.

For The Cardinal Nation’s 2015 St. Louis Cardinals Reliever of the Year, however, none of that is necessary.

Rosenthal

The winner, hands down, is Trevor Rosenthal.

The 25-year-old, in just his second season as the team’s closer, set the club’s single-season save record of 48. That total was second-highest in the National League. Rosenthal blew just three saves all season long with only one between May 3rd and September 27th for an overall success rate of 94 percent. That is up from 88 percent in 2014.

Dependable is the best word to describe Rosenthal in 2015. And really, what more should one expect? One key factor in his improved consistency and better results with his first batter faced (from under 60 percent last season to 72 percent in 2015) appears to be a spring decision by the former starter to stop pitching out of the windup and go entirely from the stretch.

From May 5th through July 2nd, Rosenthal forged a 23 2/3 inning scoreless streak and had two long save streaks - of 18 straight appearances (from May 5th through July 9th) and 21 appearances (from July 17th through September 21st). In the NL, the right-hander ranked in the top 10 in relief ERA (2.10) and strikeouts (83).

Rather that stop there, let’s look into the full bullpen, which as a group forged an impressive 2.82 ERA.

Relievers ERA FIP  WAR Sv/Op Sv % Hd FBF/R FBF% IR/S IRS%
Trevor Rosenthal 2.10 2.42 2.0 48/51 94% 0 68/49 72% 14/3 21%
Kevin Siegrist 2.17 2.91 1.4 6/10 60% 28 81/64 79% 24/5 21%
Steve Cishek * 2.31 4.33 -0.1 4/9 44% 10 59/37 63% 17/11 65%
Seth Maness 4.26 3.78 0.3 3/6 50% 21 76/51 67% 59/14 24%
Carlos Villanueva 2.95 3.74 0.2 2/2 100% 1 35/22 63% 6/1 17%
Randy Choate 3.95 3.68 0.1 1/1 100% 9 71/42 59% 57/8 14%
Jonathan Broxton * 2.66 3.56 0.1 0/3 0% 16 66/42 64% 12/6 50%
Matt Belisle 2.67 3.64 0.1 0/1 0% 12 34/19 56% 11/4 36%
Sam Tuivailala 3.07 3.82 0.1 0/0   2 14/9 64% 3/2 67%
Miguel Socolovich 1.82 2.76 0.4 0/0   1 23/18 78% 7/1 14%
Tyler Lyons # 2.95     0/0   1 9/6 67% 6/2 33%
Mitch Harris 3.67 5.39 -0.3 0/0   0 23/15 65% 4/0 0%
Adam Wainwright # 3.00     0/0   0 3/3 100% 0/0  
                     
* StL ERA/FIP, full                    
yr for other stats                    
# as reliever                    

While lefty Kevin Siegrist compiled an ERA almost as good as Rosenthal, his FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) mark is a half-run per nine innings higher. In terms of Wins Above Replacement (WAR), Rosenthal, then Siegrist, were the clear pen leaders.

Siegrist was the best on the team in retiring his first batter faced (FBF%), though he blew more saves during the season than Rosenthal. The two were identical in success of stranding inherited runners (IRS%), though they usually entered with the bases empty.

Siegrist led the NL with 81 appearances, which meant he pitched every other game all season long on the average. Seth Maness was close behind with 76 outings, Randy Choate pitched in 71 contests and Rosenthal 68. After those highly-used four, the next busiest reliever appeared in just 35 games, underlining a desire for greater bullpen depth in 2016.

It is not surprising that veterans Choate and Matt Belisle were left off the Cardinals post-season roster. They were the only two relievers to allow more than 40 percent of their first batters faced to reach.

Choate and Maness were most often called upon with opposing runners on base and both appear to have done a pretty good job in that aspect of their performance. Choate was third in the league in runners inherited and fourth in stranding success. However, that is misleading as the lefty was usually out of the game after a batter or two, with others left to finish the inning. In fact, Maness was tied for first in the NL in inherited runners and tied for fourth among relievers in ground ball double plays induced with 11.

Added for the stretch run, veterans Steve Cishek and Jonathan Broxton had mixed results. Cishek kept the opponent off the scoreboard in 22 of 26 appearances, but Broxton only had 19 scoreless outings in 26 tries.

Among the other relievers, the work of rookie Miguel Socolovich deserves noting, albeit in less mound time than many of the others.

In closing, congratulations to Trevor Rosenthal, The Cardinal Nation’s St. Louis Relief Pitcher of the Year for 2015.

For more

Link to master article with all 2015 award winners, team recaps and article schedules for the remainder of this series. That includes our St. Louis Starting Pitcher and Player of the Year, up next.

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Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnationblog.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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