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Rosenthal a likely candidate for Hartford honor

Cardinals closer's stats have him in contention for NL reliever award

From one Trevor to another?

The Trevor Hoffman National League Reliever of the Year Award and the Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year Award presented by The Hartford will be handed out Wednesday before Game 2 of the World Series in a Major League Baseball pregame press event, and Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal is a strong possibility for the former honor.

While there are no official nominees for these awards, likely candidates could include Rosenthal. The All-Star right-hander set the Cardinals' single-season saves record with 48, helped St. Louis to a Major League-leading 100 wins, and was, in the words of Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, "as good as just about anybody in a long time."

Also expected to be considered are Aroldis Chapman of the Reds, Jeurys Familia of the Mets and Mark Melancon of the Pirates in the NL, and Cody Allen of the Indians, Zach Britton of the Orioles, Wade Davis of the Royals and Andrew Miller of the Yankees in the AL.

The awards are voted on by a nine-member panel comprised of Hoffman and Rivera, and legendary closers Dennis Eckersley, Rollie Fingers, Goose Gossage, Bruce Sutter, Lee Smith, John Franco and Billy Wagner. The group includes the four living relief pitchers in the National Baseball Hall of Fame and the top six all-time saves leaders.

As part of the balloting process, all nine voters will pick three relievers from each league based solely on regular-season performance; selections are not restricted to closers. From there, a 5-3-1 weighted point system is used to determine the winners.

Smith definitely noticed; he will be considering the man who just broke his own Cardinals record. Smith set the single-season saves mark with 47 in 1993, and Jason Isringhausen tied it 13 years later. In addition to holding that new distinction for the Redbirds, Rosenthal also leads all MLB pitchers with 93 saves over the past two seasons.

"It's very special, but I don't put a lot of value into the immediate results," Rosenthal said after that record-breaking 48th on Sept. 29, bouncing back from a blown save against Pittsburgh. "I'm just trying to go out every day and give it my best and hope everything goes well. It definitely means a lot to me to do it with the organization that I came up with and gave me a chance and drafted me, and with a lot of guys in this clubhouse who I came up with."

Rosenthal, with stuff consistently in the high 90s, had a 23 2/3-inning scoreless streak from May 5 to July 2. The Cardinals' pitching staff led the Majors with a 2.94 team ERA, their lowest since 1964, and he contributed with a 2.13 ERA that ranked eighth among NL relievers. Only Chapman had a higher WAR among NL relievers than Rosenthal.

Here are further Rosenthal stats the blue-ribbon panel will have to think about:

• Became the first Cardinals pitcher in history to post consecutive 45‐save seasons, and just the seventh pitcher in MLB history to do so. Others were Eric Gagne in 2002‐04, John Smoltz in 2002‐03, Francisco Rodriguez in 2005‐06, Jim Johnson in 2012‐13, Greg Holland in 2013‐14 and Craig Kimbrel in 2013‐14.

• Had streaks of 21 consecutive saves (July 17-Sept. 21) and 18 straight (May 5-July 9). Those save streaks are tied for fifth and seventh in the NL, respectively.

• His 94.1 save percentage ranked fourth in the NL, with just three blown saves -- twice against Pittsburgh and once against Milwaukee.

• Struck out 83 batters, ranking eighth among NL relievers, and put up his third consecutive season with 80 or more strikeouts. His 278 strikeouts from 2013‐15 are tied for fourth among MLB relievers over that time. He also struck out a batter in 51 of 68 appearances.

• Retired all three batters faced in one inning with a strikeout on four occasions in 2015, a Cardinals and MLB season high. He has done so six times in his career, also a Cardinals franchise record.

• Posted a streak of 23 2/3 scoreless innings from May 5 to July 2, most by a Cardinals pitcher this season and seventh longest in the NL.

The Hartford awards were instituted last year as a replacement for MLB's "Delivery Man of the Year Award," which was presented to one winner in all of MLB from 2005-2013, and it continues a long-standing baseball tradition of honoring the game's top relief pitchers. Kimbrel won the first one in the NL and Holland won it in the AL.

Mark Newman is enterprise editor of Read and join other baseball fans on his community blog.
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