With the lockout dragging on, the Minnesota Twins season seems further away then it should feel in mid-February. Despite this, we’re still going to believe that regular season baseball will arrive as close to the original Opening Day as possible.
With that belief, we look ahead to a Minnesota Twins season that is just one big question mark that the lockout has prevented the front office from answering. While the team has several pieces in place, there’s a variety of players who enter 2022 with a lot to prove if they want to be a big piece of the team going forward.
The first two players that we went over were Brent Rooker and Alex Kirilloff, both young hitters who are looking to prove that they belong in the bigs. Today’s player is neither a young guy, nor a hitter. It’s All-Star reliever Taylor Rogers.
Rogers has been an absolute stud in the Twins’ bullpen for six seasons and has easily been the anchor for a sometimes shaky group.
- 315 G, 314.2 IP, 3.15 ERA (3.00 FIP), 1.150 WHIP, 50 SV, 10.3 K/9, 2.2 BB/9
He’s one of the best left-handed relievers in baseball, and the Twins have been extremely lucky to have him. Why then is this an important season for the pitcher?
Let’s start with the issue that, valid or not, seems to pop up each season. Is Rogers a real closer? He’s an unbelievably good reliever, and he has a thirty save season under his belt, so why even ask the question? Well, it’s pretty clear when he’s at his best according to his splits.
ERA isn’t everything, but his career ERA in the seventh inning is 1.85, his career ERA in the eighth is 2.88, and his career ERA in the ninth is 3.59. In extra innings, it’s 5.87. His other numbers back this trend up (though in fairness, it’s not as drastic of a change). In 2021, it was even worse.
He didn’t allow a run in the eight appearances he made before the eighth inning. But here were his stats in the eighth and ninth innings and his opponents’ slash lines:
- 8th: 18 G, 15.1 IP, 2.93 ERA, 14 Hits Allowed, 24-4 K-BB, .233/.281/.283
- 9th: 19 G, 17.2 IP, 5.09 ERA, 20 Hits Allowed, 24-3 K-BB, .286/.311/.500
Opponents were mashing against him in the ninth inning. If they were able to get ahold of the ball, they mashed it, hitting four homers in the ninth and none in the eighth. The Twins figured that out last year, so that’s not the big issue here though. Next offseason is.
Rogers will finally reach free agency in 2023, and let’s face it. Closer or not, he’s set to make some money. I think he has the potential to earn a Trevor May-type deal, because Rogers is in a very similar spot.
May left the Minnesota Twins after three consecutively strong seasons as a very good set-up man, producing elite strikeout numbers and went to New York. If a team is looking for a very good set-up man in his early 30s with very good strikeout numbers, Rogers is an intriguing option who (with a good season in 2022) could net somewhere from $8-12 million on the open market.
Everything seems to be set up for Rogers to have a solid season in a contract year and earn his bag in free agency or re-signing with the Twins (because there is real potential that he could want to remain here). There’s just two issues.
The first issue is a smaller one. Rogers missed most of the last two and a half months of the season with a left finger strain, and while he didn’t need surgery, it’s always a concern when a pitcher misses that much time. With that being said, the Minnesota Twins don’t expect him to miss a beat.
The bigger issue is the state of the team. The Minnesota Twins could very easily not be competitive in 2022. If they aren’t, Taylor Rogers could be having a great season and be one of the most valuable trade chips available at the deadline.
He’s very capable of a solid season, but he has to prove that he’s fully healed after last year’s injury. Expect Rogers to have another excellent year as the team’s best setup man, but where he’ll be midseason or at the end of the year will be what to watch.