Analyzing Taylor Rogers’ historic start to the 2022 season

Padres Taylor Rogers

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Taylor Rogers is off to a perfect start with the San Diego Padres, going 5-for-5 in save opportunities.

San Diego Padres general manager A.J. Preller is no stranger to acquisitions in the days leading up to Opening Day. The day before the Friars were set to open the season in Arizona, pitchers Chris Paddack and Emilio Pagan were traded to the Minnesota Twins for reliever Taylor Rogers . Paddack was forced out of the rotation due to underperformance and other additions to the rotation. Pagan never lived up to the hype of being a reliable back end of the bullpen guy.

Out were Paddack and Pagan, and in was Rogers.

The 31-year-old was drafted in the 11th round of the 2012 MLB June Amateur Draft by the Twins. He came up through the minors as a starting pitcher but transitioned to the bullpen during the 2016 season. That year, he tossed a 3.96 ERA in 57 outings at the big league level, striking out 64 batters in 61.1 innings.

In 2019, he was given the opportunity to close games for the Twins, collecting 30 saves while spinning a 2.61 ERA and a career-best 11.7 K/9. The following year, Rogers collected a team-high nine saves. Last year, he split closing duties with Alex Colome and Hansel Robles, collecting nine saves in that role.

Upon his trade to San Diego, manager Bob Melvin swiftly named the lefty as the team’s primary closer. And he’s already gone 5-for-5 in saves opportunities, the first Padres reliever to do so.

“It feels great,” Rogers said of being named the Padres closer. “After 2019, you kind of take it to heart like you’re in to save the game for the fellas. They work hard for eight innings. I just carry that mindset. And I enjoyed that. And in the last two years, it was kind of like, ‘What’s my mindset here?’ So I’m really happy to just kind of be back in that mindset (of) ‘Let’s leave the game where it’s at. The fellas worked hard to get it here. Let’s try to keep it here.’”

Padres Taylor Rogers
Credit: Fangraphs

An incredible feat, considering the number of great closers the Padres organization has had over the years: Trevor Hoffman, Heath Bell, and Kirby Yates – to name a few.

When Rogers debuted in 2016, he was a four-pitch pitcher out of the bullpen, leaning on a healthy mix of curveball and sinker, accounting for approximately 80 percent of his pitch total. Rogers’ four-seam fastball rounded out just below the 20 percent mark, and he seldom used his changeup.

Over the years, he led with his sinker, reduced his curveball usage, and introduced a slider in 2018. That pitch was the primary reason Rogers has reached a top-tier closer level.

Credit: Baseball Savant

The southpaw has dropped all pitches within the last couple of years except for his slider and sinker. Just two pitches for opposing batters to guess, and they’ve generally been unsuccessful.

This season, though, Rogers has made closing out games look effortless. His slider has yet to yield a hit but has generated all five of his strikeouts. Further, Rogers’ slider has generated a 55.6 percent whiff rate and a 33.3 percent putaway rate. When hitters do make contact, it’s for soft contact at an average 88.6 mph exit velocity.

Likewise, his sinker has experienced similar success, yielding just a .125 average but has yet to get any batter to swing and miss.

Padres Taylor Rogers
Credit: Baseball Savant

Something to monitor going forward – Rogers has allowed a 45.5 percent hard-hit rate, meaning he’s had some loud outs. His 3.33 xERA (expected ERA) suggests that he’s getting some help from the defense behind him.

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Still, Rogers has made quick work. In his first save opportunity, he needed just 12 pitches, with nine going for strikes. The following night, just ten pitches. Monday’s outing was his longest in a Padres uniform, throwing 25 pitches and dancing around a two-out walk before ending the game.

In the Friars’ only win against the Giants last week, Rogers was nasty, collecting two strikeouts and retiring the side on just 12 pitches.

Going one step further, Rogers’ sinker has 2.6 inches more drop – or 11% more drop – than similar MLB sinkers at his velocity. Likewise, side-to-side, he’s generating 0.9 inches more horizontal break – or 6% more – than similar MLB sinkers at his velocity.

As for his slider, while the vertical drop isn’t as impressive, -1.1 inches less drop – or 3% less drop – than the MLB average for this pitch. However, his slider has been unhittable because of the horizontal movement. Rogers generates 4.6 inches more movement – or 45% more movement – than the MLB average for this pitch.

Padres Taylor Rogers
Credit: Baseball Savant

Again, it will be interesting to see if those loud outs turn into base hits or even runs, but for now, it’s all positive signs for Taylor Rogers, who looks to stay perfect in save opportunities on the year.

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