The Marlins haven’t had a National League Rookie of the Year award winner since 2013, when José Fernández emerged not only to be the best rookie in the NL, but also finished third in the Cy Young voting. He set a ridiculously high standard.
But a month and a half into the 2021 season, there is a Miami pitcher who’s on a similar trajectory: Trevor Rogers. With the caveats that it’s still early and anything can happen, he looks like the main candidate for the NL ROY award.
After eight starts, Rogers owns a 5-2 record with a 1.84 ERA in 44 innings. He’s surrendered 30 hits and nine earned runs, with 17 bases on balls and 57 strikeouts (11.7 K/9). Opponents are hitting .197 off him with a .581 OPS and only two home runs. Getting such a magical performance from an inexperienced player naturally lends itself to JDF comparisons.
How well did Fernández do in his first eight career starts? Let’s take a look at them.
Conveniently, he had the same number of innings pitched as Rogers (44) through the same point in the season. From April 7-May 16, 2013, Fernández wasn’t as dominant as Rogers. He was 2-2 with a 3.48 ERA. The Cuban right-hander allowed 34 hits and 17 earned runs, more hits and way more runs than the 23-year-old lefty. Also, Fernández had 17 walks and 44 strikeouts. Opponents posted a .211/.289/.329 slash line, plus a .618 OPS. They had 10 extra-base hits off José in that span, while Rogers has surrendered 11 (nine doubles, two home runs).
Rogers’ average game score is 62, a bit higher than Fernández’s 56. And both registered four quality starts. So far, Rogers has five starts of one or zero runs allowed, while Fernández had three.
Again, we know it’s early and the Marlins still have three-quarters of the schedule ahead of them, but you can’t ignore what Trevor Rogers has done thus far. Whether or not he ends up as the 2021 NL Rookie of the Year, Rogers has given us more than one reason to be excited about the future.