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Trevor Rogers putting up identical rookie stats to Walker Buehler

Both pitchers were outstanding as 23-year-olds.

Walker Buehler #21 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches during the first inning of a game against the Miami Marlins at Dodger Stadium Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

This will be a short post because I don’t see many shared characteristics between Trevor Rogers and Walker Buehler. Their upbringings, amateur careers, physical builds and mechanics, and pitch mixes are very different. Heck, they don’t even throw with the same hand. I am not “projecting” Rogers to follow in Buehler’s footsteps.

But both talented pitchers are former first-round MLB Draft picks. They reached the majors quicker than most of their peers and debuted with playoff-contending teams.

Initially, Rogers (in 2020) and Buehler (in 2017) struggled with run prevention. They rebounded the following season—both at age 23—to distinguish themselves as the No. 1 starting pitchers in their respective National League rookie classes:

Side-by-side comparison of Walker Buehler’s rookie season stats in 2018 and Trevor Rogers’ in 2021 Stathead

As is often the case with top performers, they were the beneficiary of some good fortune—Buehler in terms of his team’s defense converting balls in play into outs, and Rogers in terms of keeping fly balls from going over the fence.

Buehler was overshadowed that year by Ronald Acuña Jr. and Juan Soto. Rogers had a clearer runway to claim NL Rookie of the Year honors, but his campaign was interrupted by a tragic family emergency. The month-plus hiatus between major league appearances suppressed his counting stats. Cincinnati’s Jonathan India is a near-lock to receive the 2021 award over him.

In parts of three seasons since then, Buehler has continued to succeed. His Wins Above Replacement, strikeout rate and innings total from 2019-2021 all rank in the top 20 among MLB pitchers with at least 250 innings pitched during that span. He is seventh overall in adjusted earned run average (143 ERA+). Moreover, he’s been able to translate that to the postseason, particularly during the Dodgers’ 2020 World Series run.

That sounds like a best-case scenario for Rogers, but perhaps one that isn’t outside the realm of possibility if he is willing to make adjustments to his competition and receives the right guidance from the Marlins organization.

Miami’s tall lefty is expected to make one more 2021 start early next week, and potentially another on the final day of the regular season (October 3).