2013 Blue Jays Player Review: Esmil Rogers


May 29, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Toronto Blue Jays relief pitcher Esmil Rogers (32) pitches in the second inning against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

NAME: Esmil Rogers
Position: Utility Pitcher

2013 Stat Line

For Esmil Rogers, there wasn’t much of an expectation of anything in 2013.  When the Toronto Blue Jays acquired SS/2B Mike Aviles from the Boston Red Sox for Coach John Farrell and RP David Carpenter, it was assumed Aviles would be around for a while.  In less than a month, Aviles was shipped to the Cleveland Indians in exchange for Rogers.  Rogers was an intriguing player.  He showed an electric FB (96-98 MPH) with an above average SLD (86-88 MPH).  He had some success as a reliever for the Indians, but that was the only success he really had at this level.  The Blue Jays needed somebody to bridge the gap to Janssen in the 7th and didn’t know who that would be, so they figured “The hell with it!  We’re just going to get as many relievers as possible and hope we strike gold.”

Rogers was not that gold.  He did, however, find ways to stick around with the big league club, albeit, none of it was consistent.  Occasionally looking brilliant as a reliever, he would battle spurts of location issues (nevermind the BBs, the 21 HRs in 137.2 IPs is pretty bad).  When Josh Johnson and Brandon Morrow went down, the Jays badly needed an arm.  So naturally, the idea would be to bring somebody up from the minors.  Instead, Toronto inexplicably and unjustifably stretched out Rogers by having him throw more innings near the end of May.  The initial response was positive.  By June, he was starting.  He was so good, it got my attention and I wrote THIS article, gushing about the improvement.  His pitching was so good, it spurred this article at Fangraphs.com coincidentally the same day!  Pretty impressive when two writers pick up on the same improvements (Blake Murphy is a very good writer.  I actually consider it a compliment that we wrote similar articles.)  Then the control and location issues came back and Rogers struggled through July and August (0-4 7.47 ERA in 9 starts).  Just when the Jays were about to say “Screw it!” and demote him, Johnson gets shut down for the year.  Re-enter Rogers, who only went 2-2 with a 3.71 ERA in 5 starts, with most of the damage coming in the final 2 starts (0-2, 6.2 IP, 10.80 ERA, 2.74 WHIP, .393 BAA)

To say what the future holds for Rogers is tough to tell.  The bullpen seems pretty solid without him being in that mix.  So it seems the only way he makes the club next season is by challenging Kyle Drabek, Ricky Romero, Drew Hutchison, Marcus Stroman, Sean Nolin, and J.A. Happ for a spot in the rotation, not to mention the offseason additions Toronto decides to bring in to shore up the rotation.  Rogers is also due for arbitration in 2014. At just over $500K with no guarantees on results, he may not be sticking around in Toronto.  To show how maddeningly frustrating Rogers is, in his 5 wins (4 as a starter), he’s got an ERA under 1 (0.94), with a WHIP at 0.66.  While he didn’t have a high K/9 (4.7) his K/BB was 3.75, which is almost 4:1.  In his 9 losses (7 as a starter), Roger’s ERA is an astronomical 12.06, WHIP 2.46, and K/BB of 1.  His track record as a pitcher doesn’t help either, since over 6 seasons, 2013 was his best season to date.  His FIP at 4.73 is not much different than his 4.77 ERA and his most damning stat is his WAR at 0.4, which says he’s a replaceable major league player.  If you’re looking for prediction on performance for 2014, I can’t accurately give you one.  Much like his season, the only thing to expect for Rogers this offseason is the unexpected.