The closing competition between Seung Hwan Oh and Kevin Siegrist has been open for a few days now, but how close is it to being finished?
Since Trevor Rosenthal was relieved of his closer duties following a blown save on June 24th against the Mariners, the Cardinals’ bullpen has had one save opportunity. Rosenthal’s demotion was long overdue, but with him out, who should be next in line?
Currently, manager Mike Matheny said he will use a Kevin Siegrist and Seung-hwan Oh platoon. Both relievers have had exceptional seasons. Siegrist has posted a 2.97 ERA while Oh has had a 1.62. While Oh has had the better season, Siegrist has been in the majors longer and has been dominant throughout his career while Oh has only pitched 38 games at the major league level.
Siegrist also has a repertoire that warrants a closer role. He throws 95MPH from the left side and has a wipeout slider along with a neutralizing changeup. He compares to closer Zach Britton who has had tremendous success closing in Baltimore.
Oh lacks the velocity to be a conventional closer. In the modern era of baseball, relief pitchers are throwing harder, throwing fastballs that can reach the upper 90s. Oh’s fastball sits around 90 MPH but he has the accuracy and off-speed pitches to get hitters out.
That changeup to Eric Hosmer is the untapped pitch for Seung Hwan Oh. Watch out when he finally introduces that consistently.
— stlCupofJoe (@stlCupofJoe) June 29, 2016
On the other hand, Siegrist has not been able to succeed when given the opportunity to close. In his brief closing stint in 2015, he only converted 6 out of 10 save opportunities and has blown 5 saves while only converting 1 in the 2016 season.
Oh is the Korean save leader and has saved 357 games between Korea and Japan. He has had extensive success closing throughout his career and is clearly able to convert saves when given the chance.
During last night’s game, Oh was given his first opportunity to finish a game. Although the Cardinals were up by 4 runs so it was not a save situation, it was still a situation to close out a game. Previously, Matheny would have turned to his closer Rosenthal, but this time he turned to Oh.
Oh did not look sharp in his first opportunity but was able to close out the game. He started off the inning allowing a full count walk to Christian Colon, the 8th hitter in the Royals lineup. He allowed 2 more singles in the subsequent 3 batters, loading the bases with only 1 out. Oh showed his resilience though, getting the lefty slugger Alex Gordon to pop out and Eric Hosmer to ground out.
Though he looked shaky, Oh is the right decision to close out games for the Cardinals. He has tremendous success in this role and has been dominant all season. Oh’s dominance should allow Rosenthal to find his form in relaxed situations and hopefully be able to become an asset for the Cardinals as they pursue a National League Pennant.