When the SF Giants signed veteran reliever Taylor Rogers to a three-year, $33 million contract in the offseason, it was a mild surprise. The front office never seemed too keen on making large investments in relievers like this but they viewed Rogers differently. The early returns, however, are pretty concerning.
Left-handed reliever's SF Giants tenure is off to a rough start
You could pretty much copy and paste this article for Ross Stripling after two rough outings. I do think Stripling will figure it out and be an important piece to the pitching staff. I hope the same for Rogers as well, but I am less confident.
San Francisco's bullpen posted a 4.08 ERA in 2022, which ranked as the 11th-worst mark in baseball. This was an obvious area to upgrade and the front office attempted to do that by adding Rogers and Luke Jackson, who is still recovering from Tommy John surgery last April.
Rogers was coming off of his worst season in the majors last year as he posted a 4.76 ERA in 66 combined appearances with the San Diego Padres and Milwaukee Brewers. He did have some promising peripherals that the Giants valued such as a 3.31 FIP, suggesting that his ERA was a bit inflated, and a solid 4.42 SO/W ratio. Plus, it helps that he can sit in the mid-90's from the left side.
Despite the fact that his ability to prevent runs was the worst of his career, the Giants still signed him to a substantial contract. One way or the other, the 32-year-old pitcher will be a factor in the Giants' bullpen for the next several years.
That said, the hope is that he can shake off a rough start to the season. Rogers has posted a 8.10 ERA, 12.40 FIP, 1.80 WHIP, 2.7 K/9, and a 0.50 SO/W ratio in four appearances. This includes two home runs as well.
I know you are about to yell at me about small samples and I would probably agree with you. It is not just the results, but how he has looked so far, which is to say, not great. Rogers is allowing a 94.7-MPH average exit velocity, which is extremely high and a sign that hitters are just not missing.
In fact, many of his Statcast rankings on Baseball Savant are concerning. He is giving up a lot of hard contact and not missing many bats. Plus, his sinker velocity is down compared to last year by 1.1 MPH and he is experimenting with a cutter that is unproven.
It is still very early, so these warning signs can correct themselves in no time. However, after coming off of a down year, it is difficult to ignore. This is not necessarily a concerning trend yet. Four appearances does not tell you much but it is something to monitor.