NEW YORK -- Whether Cardinals reliever Trevor Rosenthal is chosen to be a member of the National League bullpen in next month's All-Star Game or not, there is no denying that the young right-hander is putting up All-Star-type numbers.
The 23-year-old righty entered Wednesday with a 1.69 ERA and had not allowed an earned run since April 24 -- a span that includes 18 appearances and 19 1/3 innings. He had also tallied 29 strikeouts against just three walks during that stretch.
Yet during Wednesday's visit to the MLB Fan Cave in Manhattan -- where he was joined by fellow St. Louis reliever Joe Kelly -- Rosenthal said the thought of being an All-Star hasn't crossed his mind at any point during his impressive run.
"None of us have really talked about the All-Star stuff in the clubhouse or anything yet; we're just focused on winning games," Rosenthal said. "But making the All-Star team at any point in your career would be a really cool thing to do and be a part of. Obviously, it's a huge honor, so it would definitely be really special to be on that team someday."
At this rate, Rosenthal will find himself on that team sooner rather than later. The righty has played a vital role in helping the Cardinals' bullpen rebound from a tough April.
St. Louis' relievers ceded 43 earned runs over 66 2/3 innings in April, resulting in a 5.80 ERA. With an influx of young arms, combined with veterans stepping up, the relief corps has allowed just 38 earned runs over 104 2/3 innings since for a solid 3.27 ERA.
The bullpen has gone through a lot in the season's first half, including the loss of closer Jason Motte to season-ending Tommy John surgery before he even threw a regular-season pitch. Reliever Mitchell Boggs, who had a 2.21 ERA over 78 appearances last season, struggled to pick up the slack, posting an 11.05 ERA over 18 appearances before being optioned to Triple-A Memphis.
Through it all, St. Louis' relievers have found their niche, helping the Cards to a Major League-best 42-22 record entering Wednesday night.
"It's kind of the aura of our team -- when one guy goes down, the next guy steps up," Kelly said. "We have such a great Minor League system and great coaching staff that it's easy to come up and immediately be relaxed and just kind of be yourself out there."
In St. Louis' case, it has actually helped, to some extent, to have so many young players in the clubhouse. The Cardinals have already had seven pitchers make their big league debuts this season, and three -- Rosenthal, Kelly and Shelby Miller -- made their Major League debuts just a season ago.
Rosenthal and Kelly both agreed that has helped team chemistry -- and that was on full display on Wednesday at the Fan Cave. The right-handers -- both drafted in 2009 before debuting a month apart in '12 -- made the most of their Cave experience, participating together in a spontaneous photo-booth session with the ensuing photographs, complete with Mardi Gras masks, drawing laughs from all the Cave Dwellers.
"We all have really similar personalities -- so many competitive guys competing on the field and then off the field as well, it makes for good relationships," Rosenthal said. "It keeps things light and loose and makes it a lot of fun showing up to the clubhouse every day knowing that you've got a lot of friends in there and guys that are always going to be working hard."
Kelly, 25, even jumped at the opportunity to take a trip down the Fan Cave's home run slide, then shared a special moment with a young fan waiting patiently outside the Cave's doors. Shy at first, the young boy sporting a David Freese jersey warmed up to the Cards relievers once Kelly urged him to demonstrate his best Freese home run-swing impression. Kelly then encouraged the boy to show off his home run trot around imaginary bases before scooping the child off his feet and lifting him high above his head as he reached home plate.
It's that type of energy and attitude that has helped keep the Cardinals' clubhouse -- and bullpen -- so positive and successful in spite of some early-season bumps.
"A lot of us have been on the same team at every single level, from the Minors to the big leagues, so we know what we're going to get out of each other and know what to expect from these guys on the field and in the clubhouse," Kelly said. "You're a lot more relaxed rather than you just being called up and you're with a team of 24 other veterans and you're the only rookie. We have the perfect mix right now, and it seems to be working."