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Twins Blogosphere


It's Time for the Minnesota Twins to Move Down Taylor Rogers in the Bullpen Pecking Order

For the past handful of seasons, Taylor Rogers has been the shining star in the Minnesota Twins bullpen. After a few rough outings to start the 2020 season, though, it’s time to evaluate where Taylor Rogers fits in with the bullpen pecking order and if it’s time for a changing of the guard.
Image courtesy of © David Berding-USA TODAY Sports
From the start of the 2017 season to the end of the 2019 season, Taylor Rogers had been one of the best relief pitchers in baseball. Over that timespan, Rogers ranked 15th in baseball in ERA (2.75) and 15th in fWAR (4.3). In what had been rollercoaster season for the Twins’ various relief groups, Rogers had been the steady force who could be counted on in the highest of leverage situations.

Down the stretch run of 2019 and into the 2020 season, though, there have been some chinks in the armor. After an outstanding first half of the 2019 season (1.82 ERA), Taylor Rogers stumbled a bit down the stretch, posting a second half ERA of 3.68. Rogers has continued that poor stretch into the 2020 season as he now owns a 4.82 ERA through the first third of the season, while batters own a batting average north of .300 against him.

Thus far in the 2020 season, the biggest difference in Taylor Rogers struggles have been the ability for opposing batters to square up and make hard contact on his pitches. In 2018 and 2019, Rogers ranked in the top 25% of baseball in limiting hard contact for opposing batters. Thus far in 2020, though, Rogers ranks in the bottom third in baseball in limiting hard contact, allowing a hard hit percentage of 40.7. The hard hits have led to some tough outings for Rogers, who has allowed runs in three of his 10 outings, two of them resulting in multiple runs, and all three of them blowing a tie or a lead.

In addition to the runs allowed, Rogers has seemingly had to work his way through every outing. In 2019, Taylor Rogers got through 42% of his appearances without allowing a hit, while in 2020 he has allowed a hit in seven of his 10 outings.

While Taylor Rogers has taken a small step back from his "eliteness" over the past 13 months, there have been several other arms in the Minnesota Twins bullpen that have made the leap forward to being outstanding relief options.



As you can see above, Taylor Rogers still has a very respectable 3.82 ERA since last July, but other arms have simply been better — namely, Trevor May and Tyler Duffey. Trevor May has the best pure “stuff” of anyone on the Minnesota Twins bullpen, utilizing a 98 MPH fastball and a slider that completely fools batters at the plate. Tyler Duffey, in the meantime, has developed into one of the best relief pitchers in all of baseball, becoming practically unhittable every time he takes the mound. May and Duffey both tout right handedness in an American League where the majority of the best hitters come from the right side of the plate.

Taylor Rogers still has the command and the stuff to work his way back up the bullpen pecking order, but Trevor May and Tyler Duffey have done enough over what has worked out to be a half-season sample size to become the high leverage arms in this relief group. In a shortened season in which every game (theoretically) means 2.7 times more than it normally would, it’s time for the pecking order to be rearranged and for the Twins bullpen stars to get their time to shine.

Do you think Taylor Rogers should be moved down the bullpen pecking order? Would you rather see Trevor May or Tyler Duffey as the “highest” leverage arm? Leave a comment below and start the conversation!

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11 Comments

It was always awkward having the best/only lefty be the closer. It might be better to use him in situations against tough left-handed hitters and someone else in the generic closer role.

    • peterb18, jun, DocBauer and 3 others like this

The question deserves a simple answer - yes.RP is so erratic year to year and month to month and the manager should not be afraid to move pitchers up and down in their positions.When Rogers gets back to what he was he will be able to move back to his elite position.

    • Huskertwin likes this
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Channing1964
Aug 22 2020 04:30 AM
without looking up all the babip uzr and other alphabets i dont fully understand anyway, I just think the bullpen management has been sort of erratic all year. I know the game situations dictate that, but some of Baldelli's decisions leave me scratching my head. Tonight for example, they had Littel warming up in the pen and i mean Hot. Then Odorizzi got literally knocked out of the game and I watched Baldelli yell Alcala...Alcala....well ok Rocco ...Bremer didn't wanna say it was Baldelli saying it but we all saw him. Okay fine...then what the hell did you have Littel getting ready for? He even jumped out the pen and had to be called back by the bullpen staff. Kinda made us look like idiots. (well not me, but our team)
    • mikelink45 and Huskertwin like this

I agree to using Duffey or May instead of Rogers. Closing is a lot about attitude and being mentally up for the challenge. Rogers doesn't seem confident out there like he used to, so lets try someone else. And I know Romo has closed as well and been effective. Obviously, he shows fire out there even though he doesn't through fire.

    • mikelink45 and Channing1964 like this

I think you give Rogers one more chance.

 

Remember, earlier this year the guy was completely lights out in his first few games. Looked absolutely unhittable.

 

I think you let him in for the next save. If he blows it or even gets in trouble, it's time for a shift.

 

On the other hand, if he goes back to his lights out stuff, you can just give him a pass on his recent rough patch. It happens.

    • Channing1964 likes this
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twinbythebay
Aug 22 2020 09:45 AM
I think this is a very reactionary take that is based on surface level stats and some unlucky outcomes so far in this short season. Here are some underlying numbers that tell a very different story than ERA. (All numbers from Fangraphs)

xFIP
Duffey: 1.36
Rogers: 2.40
May: 3.14
Romo: 3.58
Stashak: 3.71
Littell: 7.55

And a major reason for the discrepancy between the ERA leaders and xFIP leaders:
BABIP
Rogers: .423 (this puts Rogers 9th in the entire league among qualified relievers)
Littell: .368
May: .238
Stashak: .214
Duffey: .182
Romo: .118

And finally, Hard Hit %:
Duffey: 56.5%
May: 52.2%
Littell: 37.5%
Stashak: 37.5%
Rogers: 37.0%
Romo: 27.8%

Based on these numbers, the only guy who I would put in the same realm as Rogers is Duffey. Based on Rocco's approach this far, I think he also recognizes that Rogers's stuff hasn't declined and that he should still get the ball in the biggest spots.
    • saviking likes this
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FritzDahmus
Aug 22 2020 09:52 AM

I disagree....Taylor Rogers didn't "look lights out earlier this year"....as some of you are saying.

 

His location was mediocre, but fortunately for him...it was against very cold hitting. He needs to work on his location. Like all MLB pitchers....it is location, location, location.

 

How else do you think Romo can do what he does. Mariano Rivera in the HOF with one pitch. Greg Maddux [best pitcher in 50 years??] barely throwing 90 MPH....and 88-pitch complete games. Pitch location and purpose.

 

You can't just throw strikes....they have to have a purpose and a location for each and every pitch. Taylor Roger's pitches have neither on most occasions. 

 

Roco is running Spring Training tryouts in the bullpen this year. We have one of the best records in baseball....so he is getting away with it. The relievers with the most innings are [in this order]: Thorpe, Alcala, Wisler, and Smeltzer. Saving the big boys for when the starters get their sh*t together and pitch 6 or 7 innings!!!

    • jun likes this

Duffey looks the most confident when he takes the mound. As far as his hard hit percentage, you aren't hitting it hard when he strikes you out ..

    • jun likes this

Let Romo or Duffey close for now. Rogers, May, Clippard and Stashak can help set up.  Alcala and Smeltzer can be the long relievers. Alcala can certainly pitch in close games. Wisler, Thielbar and Gearrin can be useful.

I agree with someone earlier that said his location doesn't seem to be good right now, but what I am noticing, at least the last few times out, is that his pitches don't seem to have the same zip on them that they used to. His slider looks more like a slurvy curveball and he leaves it over the plate too much, and it seems to me like he is using it more and the fastball less. He also seems to have less confidence.

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Channing1964
Aug 23 2020 12:39 AM
Well here is the thing. I think Francona started this a couple years ago when they had Cody Allen AND Andrew Miller. The trend in the league now is leaning towards using your absolute best relievers in the later and highest leverage situations. I am all for that. The save category used to be important I guess but I never really cared about it. Is 45 saves more important on a 110 win team than 30 is on a 70 win team? Hell no. All the other statistics bear that out. The players wanna get more in arbitration because they saved more games. The owners wanna drive the number down because of lack of saves
I don't GAF how much they get paid, I want my team to win. All you have to do from the say 6th inning on is see who's coming up, what the matchup is, and use your three or four top relievers accordingly. Baldelli has been a little puzzling so far in doing that but if you use sense then why not bring Rogers in the 7th to face a teams best lefties? It doesn't mean he has to finish the damn game. Nobody has "closers" anymore anyway. When you have Duffey, May, Romo, and Clippard behind him what's the issue? Get the toughest lefties out and get his ass out of there. Let the other guys do their job. Trust me none of them cares who the designated closer is. Rogers does NOT have to finish every single game he appears in. And thats the issue...he will be fine. The staff just has to embrace the concept

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