After not being able to record a single out during his first five appearances in 2019, his ERA had reached infinity. Then things got downright sad for the 29-year-old former All-Star closer.
First, Rosenthal found himself on the injured list. Then when he made rehab starts in Double-AA Harrisburg he gave up six earned runs in 9.1 innings, allowing nine hits, seven walks and 11 strikeouts — all of which equated to 1.714 WHIP and 5.79 ERA. Still the Nationals brought him back up with their shaky bullpen providing little choice.
His second chance in Washington didn’t go any better and he won’t be getting a third. The Nats released Rosenthal on Sunday after he gave up three earned runs on three walks while recording no outs, leading to 13-9 loss to Atlanta.
Rosenthal took all of 2018 off as he recovered from elbow surgery. What could have been an epic comeback season instead ends in depressing fashion. His final tally with Washington is dreadful a 16 ER, 15 BB, 8 H, 5 K in 6.1 IP. After never having an ERA above 4.46 before joining the Nats, he’ll finish his D.C. tenure with an ERA of 22.74 and WHIP of 3.632. At his best with the St. Louis Cardinals, he allowed just 16 earned runs in 68 appearances during the summer of 2015. In 2019, he matched that mark in 12 games.
There’s little about this that isn’t hard to watch unfold. When Rosenthal signed with Washington last November it was a move that could’ve proved valuable to both sides. The one-year contract with a conditional option for 2020 could have seen the reliever earn up to $30 million over two years if he became the Nats’ regular closer.
Instead he’ll set out to rediscover the command that made him one of the most feared closers in baseball during his time in St. Louis.
“I told him, I said, ‘Hey, hopefully you get a chance to pitch again, hopefully you get a chance to pitch in the big leagues,’” Nationals manager Davey Martinez told the Washington Post. “I mean, he’s got great stuff. He just couldn’t find the strike zone.”
Washington is still on the hook for the $7 million it guaranteed Rosenthal when he signed.
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