Overall, Minnesota reliever Taylor Rogers ’ 4.05 ERA is far from ideal, but his 2.84 FIP indicates that he could have been a bit unlucky. His 1.50 WHIP is near blasphemous for a late-innings guy, and the opposition hit a whopping .302 (.400 BABIP) against him in 2020. To his credit, he navigated muddy waters, and went a respectable 9-for-11 on save opportunities, but one can only wonder how he managed to pull that off with some glaring metrics and a miniscule 60.3-percent strand rate.
In 2020, there were only five closers who had at least five saves and a strand rate lower than Rogers’ 60.3-percent mark. They were Cole Sulser, Raisel Iglesias , Anthony Bass , Brad Hand and Héctor Neris . Maybe we should be celebrating his nine saves more, because how he managed to pull it off is impressive. Furthermore, when you look at his splits from 2020, the higher the leverate, the higher his numbers went. That’s certainly not ideal for a guy with more competition for late inning work in 2021.
Compared to recent years, his average exit velocity allowed was up, and his 9.7-percent barrel rate allowed was the highest of his career. He more or less dropped his curveball from his repertoire, and opponents continued to barrel up his slider more.
His 26.4-percent strikeout rate from 2020 was a step down from his 2019 season (32.4%), but on par with career average. His swinging strike rate remained steady, but he generated fewer whiffs in the strike zone.
Outside of his 2019 season, he’s never been a guy that’s done a great job of mitigating hard contact, and his percentile rankings show that. It essentially validates that his 2019 season is more of a statistical outlier than anything, and while he can certainly be luckier than he was in 2020, expecting him to get back to the 2019 numbers seems silly.
Strikeouts and ground balls are key for Rogers, since he allows some hard contact, and in 2020, he posted a career low ground ball rate. His slider doesn’t generate many ground balls, whereas his sinker does, but in 2020 both marks dropped. Additionally, opponents rocked his sinker to the tune of a 94.4 mile per hour average exit velocity. What was it in 2019? 89.3 miles per hour.
The toughest thing with Rogers is going to be how many save opportunities will he get in 2021. Minnesota should be in a position to win a lot of ball games, so that isn’t the issue here. The problem is manager Rocco Baldelli, and his propensity to hand out save opportunities to everyone like the turkey at Thanksgiving dinner! Pass the plate around, take what you want and onto the next person! Under Baldelli, take a look at some of the notable save numbers.
In 2020, Rogers had nine, Romo had five, May had two and Matt Wisler had one.
With less notable competition, yes, Rogers still got the majority of the chances, but everyone got a piece of the pie in Minnesota in 2019 and 2020. Now in 2021, Baldelli has a lot of talent in the back end of the bullpen that he can utilize, muddying the waters for save opportunities. Unlike recent years, I can’t say for certain that Rogers will lead in save opportunities. Take a look at some of the numbers over the past three years for Rogers, and new teammates Hansel Robles and Alex Colomé .
If you ask me, each of the three guys above will be involved. While there’s no clear top dog, and the Twins likely never announce a traditional closer, I would presume that the Rogers-Colome duo get the lion’s share of the opportunities, as they serve as 1A and 1B. Robles, on the other hand, likely serves as the second or third guy, depending on how you count it when there are two number ones.
There are some other closers around Rogers in average draft position that don’t have the competition that he has in the backend of the Minnesota pen, but fortunately, he plays for a Minnesota ball club that should put forth an ample amount of opportunities. If he doesn’t get a good chunk of saves, he’s a slightly expensive ratio booster. However, to Rogers’ credit, he’s posted a 30.9 percent strikeout rate over the last two seasons and an impressive 7.60 K/BB ratio. If he slips in drafts, pounce on him.