Trevor Rosenthal has yet to retire a batter this season

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Nationals reliever Trevor Rosenthal has had a forgettable start to the 2019 season. The right-hander missed all of 2018 recovering from Tommy John surgery, which allowed the Nationals to sign him on the cheap: a one-year, $7 million deal. Rosenthal, a former All-Star closer, entered Sunday’s action without having retired a single batter.

Here’s how Rosenthal’s appearances have gone:

  • March 30 vs. Mets: Single, single, walk, RBI single
  • March 31 vs. Mets: RBI single
  • April 3 vs. Phillies: Walk, Walk

Things did not get any better for Rosenthal on Sunday against the Mets. He entered with the Nationals leading 12-6, a very low-leverage situation. Rosenthal proceeded to hit pinch-hitter Dominic Smith with a pitch, then uncorked a pair of wild pitches to allow Smith to move to third base. Rosenthal finished off the at-bat against Luis Guillorme by walking him on four pitches. That was enough for manager Dave Martinez, who substituted Wander Suero in for Rosenthal. Suero proceeded to get two strikeouts and a line out to see his way out of danger.

As evidenced by the walks, wild pitches, and hit batter, Rosenthal doesn’t have anything resembling control. He’s still throwing in the upper-90’s, but that’s only useful when it can be spotted properly. One wonders how much leash the Nationals will give Rosenthal. The Nats still won on Sunday to get back to .500, but in a hyper-competitive NL East, the club can’t afford to give away any games. One game could be the difference between winning the division and winning the Wild Card, or winning the Wild Card and sitting at home in October.