Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers – #37 Mark Rogers

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There’s baseball today.

Actual baseball between the Milwaukee Brewers and another team. They’ll play nine innings. They’ll pitch, run, hit, throw, and catch. Hopefully the Brewers will score more runs than the Oakland Athletics but it’s hardly necessary at this stage.

As we sit 37 days away from Opening Day on April 1st, the players begin actual competition but more importantly they continue their preparation for the regular season.

As for me, I continue to count down to Opening Day by way of jersey numbers. Today is the day we take a look at…

Mark Rogers.

Rogers

Mark Elliot Rogers was the Brewers first choice (5th overall) in the 2004 First-Year Player Draft. He has been beleaguered by injuries throughout his professional career.

I detailed that injury history in last year’s article, so if you’d like to read it, feel encouraged.

Coming into 2012, there wasn’t a job opportunity to  be had in the Brewers starting rotation. All five spots were once again spoken for as they returned all five starters from the previous season when they only needed six men total to start all 162 games en route to a division championship and NLCS berth. Rogers entered camp looking to be and stay healthy along with refining his game.

Last year at this time I wrote that Rogers might have a chance to win a job in 2013 when up to four positions (behind Yovani Gallardo) could become available. Well, three spots are up for grabs, and one other original rotation member from 2012 returns with Gallardo in Chris Narveson but there is a job to be won. As Rogers enters his age 27 season, the time is now to seize control of his career.

Rogers missed the first six games of 2012 as he finished up a suspension but after that he pitched three months of regular starts as a pitcher for the Nashville Sounds. In those 18 starts, the 6’2″ 225 pound right-hander compiled a 6-6 record, 4.72 ERA in 95.1 innings pitched. He walked too many batters (49) and his strikeout rate dropped from his career average, but you could almost think of those first three months of 2012 as one long spring training for Rogers. The process and staying healthy were of the utmost importance.

That being said, results certainly still mattered. In Rogers final three starts for the Sounds in 2012 his combined totals were 19.0 IP, 2 ER, 9 H, 5 BB, 20 K, 0 HR.

Those numbers, along with some fortunate timing, led to Rogers’ being promoted to the big league club at the end of July. The Brewers had just traded away Zack Greinke as it appeared that their season’s destiny was spelled out clearly. With the opening in the rotation and his strong work recently, Mark Rogers was back in the big leagues.

Rogers would make seven starts for Milwaukee before being shut down for the remainder of the year as the Brewers looked to protect his oft-injured pitching arm. In those games, Rogers put together the following line:

3-1, 3.92 ERA, 39.0 IP, 36 H, 17 R (all earned), 14 BB, 41 K, 5 HR

In other words, pretty darn good. His K rate was back up to 24.9% and his walk rate settled back down to 8.5%. He finished his big league stint with a 1.282 WHIP, .240 batting average against (.298 BABIP), all resulting in an ERA+ of 106. All told, it was a solid year for Rogers.

As the 2013 Cactus League gets underway today for the Brewers, Mark Rogers is not scheduled to pitch. He will pitch tomorrow though and he needs to be sharp early. Rogers is out of minor league options finally this year and, as I’m on record as saying, I think he most benefits the Brewers as a member of the starting rotation. Pitching every fifth day while staying on a regimented program between starts should, at least in theory, provide Rogers with the greatest opportunity to stay healthy.

Many projection systems don’t have the kindest outlooks on Rogers’ chances this year but the games need to be played. Once upon a time, Rogers was thought of as having a pretty high ceiling. He was projected out of high school to reach the level of a solid #2 pitcher. He can still achieve that level of production if his control doesn’t desert him but at this stage in his career it’s now all about producing on the mound. The future is now. The time has come.

You know the phrase “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it”? Well, the bridge has been come to.

Let’s see how Mark Rogers does in crossing it.

Miss anyone along the way? Catch up on the Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers profiles to this point:

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