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2022 Marlins Season Preview: Trevor Rogers

The NL ROY runner-up was among the sport’s best inning-for-inning pitchers last season.

Miami Marlins v Washington Nationals Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

While Sandy Alcantara is firmly entrenched as the team’s frontline ace, the Marlins had no better pitcher in 2021 from a productive-when-available standpoint than Trevor Rogers. Though he only threw 133 innings across 25 starts—missing a month due to family health concerns—Rogers led all National League rookies in ERA (2.64), the aforementioned starts and innings, WHIP (1.15), and BAA (.218). Among pitchers with at least 120 innings pitched Rogers’ 2.64 ERA ranked 6th, and his 2.55 FIP trailed only eventual NL Cy Young Award winner Corbin Burnes (1.56).

Rogers’ selection to the MLB All-Star Game was not about giving the Marlins a token All-Star: he earned it.

Rogers’ success has been partially predicated on the use and effectiveness of his changeup. According to FanGraphs, among pitchers with at least 130 innings pitched, the 8.6 runs above average generated by his offspeed weapon ranked 4th in all of baseball. Hitters slashed a measly .199/.213/.265 on the pitch in 2021.

Defying MLB norms, Rogers went back to his four-seam fastball in most putaway situations. Of his 157 strikeouts last season, 99 of them came courtesy of the heater.

Will 2022 bring a sophomore slump for the 24-year-old as he gets what should be his first taste of big-league life without an innings limit?

Keeping the ball in the ballpark will greatly aid in Rogers repeating his 2021 success. Among pitchers with at least 130 innings pitched in a season in the expansion era (1961-present), Rogers is one of just 12 who did so while posting a HR/9 below 0.45 (Rogers finished at 0.41) while also striking out more than 10 batters per nine innings (10.62).

Expansion era pitchers to post <0.45 HR/9, >10.0 K/9 and >130 IP in a single season
Expansion era pitchers to post <0.45 HR/9, >10.0 K/9 and >130 IP in a single season

The improved (albeit still-incomplete) Marlins offense can help Rogers build upon his 7-8 win-loss record from a year ago. Pitching with a lead more frequently may free him to make the best possible decisions with his location and sequencing.

Looking at his Baseball Savant metrics, the one concern surrounding Rogers may be his uneven control.

Trevor Rogers’ 2021 Statcast percentile rankings
Trevor Rogers’ 2021 Statcast percentile rankings
Baseball Savant

In 2020, Rogers’ 28-inning introduction to the Majors saw him walk 13 batters (4.2 BB/9). The left-hander made great strides to cut back his allowance of free passes, lowering that rate to 3.1 in his 2021 campaign (46 BB in 133 IP). However, that still left the NL Rookie of the Year runner-up in the 47th percentile in that category.

Should Rogers continue to gradually cut down on his walks, one can only assume he’ll be able to sustain success at the Major League level.

Rogers told Christina De Nicola of that he has adjusted the way he grips his slider for the upcoming season.

One quirk of the Grapefruit League schedule: the Marlins have off days every 5th day. Rogers’ regimen for getting stretched out as a starting pitcher happens to align his throwing with those off days. It’s possible that we won’t have any data of Rogers facing major league opponents until he makes his regular season debut on April 10 against the Giants.