Why Nats released Rosenthal when they did

Ben Krimmel
June 27, 2019 - 10:51 am

After the Washington Nationals signed pitcher Trevor Rosenthal this offseason they were excited the reliever was still touching triple digits on the radar gun coming off of Tommy John surgery.

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“There was a big number," Nationals manager Davey Martinez said during spring training. “Obviously he came out today and hit that triple digit, and it’s early. He feels good, and I want him to continue to feel good going into the season.”

However, the era of good feelings did not last as Rosenthal struggled from the start. He was unable to record an out in his first four appearances.

After Rosenthal spent the month of May in the minor leagues on a rehab assignment, general manager Mike Rizzo told The Sports Junkies Wednesday the Nats said the 29-year-old had earned one final chance at the big league level. 

“He’s got an established track record,” said Rizzo during his weekly 106.7 The Fan appearance, presented by Burke & Herbert Bank.

“He’s got a bunch of saves in his career, he’s done it in the past and we figured that the rehab schedule was up and we had to make a decision either to release him in the minor leagues or bring him to the big leagues and give him one more opportunity," he said. "We felt it was in his best interest because he’s worked so damn hard to get himself back on track to give him another chance in the big leagues.

"We did, and when it didn’t work out we brought him into the office and told him of our decision. He understood it, took it like a professional, and we wish him nothing but the best.”

Rosenthal made five appearances after being called up, over the first four he allowed one run in 3 1/3 innings. In his final appearance, the struggles returned: Rosenthal faced three batters and walked them all. All three came in to score in a Nats loss. On June 23 he was released.

"He put the work in. We put the work in. We tried to get him right, and just things didn’t work out," Martinez said after Rosenthal's release. “So it was time for us to move on.”

Rizzo said Rosenthal took the decision standing up. 

“These guys are very perceptive and they know what the pitcher looks like and I don’t think he was shocked when we called him into the manager’s office and told him of our decision,” Rizzo said. “Took it like a professional and was a great teammate and a hard worker. It just, unfortunately, didn’t work out for him and for us, and we move on. And that’s, unfortunately, that’s part of the game that is kind of forgotten by a lot the fans.

"But these guys aren’t robots, they’re human beings, and they have failures and successes and they’re guys that you’re around a lot, so you feel for the guy.”

The Nationals GM told The Junks Rosenthal is "a great guy who works extremely hard" and he hopes he can revive his career.

“You can see the stuff is there," Rizzo added. "He just has some things that he certainly needs to iron out and hopefully, he’s a young man, so hopefully his career isn’t over and he can help contribute to another team somewhere.”

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