BALTIMORE: Granted, Esmil Rogers has made only seven appearances for the Indians, but at this early juncture of his Cleveland career, he looks like a steal.
Rogers was acquired from the Colorado Rockies for cash on June 12. He arrived in the American League with numbers befitting the backup long reliever on a Sunday morning slo-pitch team.
Last year with the Rockies, he posted an 8.06 ERA in 23 relief appearances, averaging 6.3 walks and 10.2 strikeouts per nine innings. He also gave up 36 hits in 25? innings, but he allowed only two home runs.
Why would a Tribe scout recommend such an unsuccessful pitcher to his boss? Because Rogers’ fastball consistently registers 96 miles per hour, and at times he throws a couple of miles per hour harder than that.
Obviously, this was not a slam dunk for the Tribe. If that were the case, the Rockies would have kept him. But there might have been mitigating circumstances that added to Rogers’ poor performances.
Coors Field is not the most comfortable place to pitch, owing to its mile-high altitude. Moreover, in the minor leagues, Rogers was almost exclusively a starter (101 starts in 104 games), so maybe he hadn’t adjusted to the bullpen.
Rogers still pitches from the windup if there’s a batter on third or the bases are loaded, a practice that he might have to change.
“We only have a small sample to go on,” manager Manny Acta said Friday. “He spent a few years in Colorado. It didn’t work for him over there. So far, we’ve gotten out of him what a lot of people envisioned. We’re not going to say he is going to be the undisputed, unscored upon guy who never walks anybody.”
Control has been the biggest issue with Rogers, who had yet to issue a walk in 9? innings with the Tribe going into Friday night’s game against the Baltimore Orioles. He had struck out 13 and given up only two earned runs.
He still must pass a couple of tests: How will he pitch when he enters the game with runners on base, and will he react positively when he pitches with a relatively small lead?
“Rogers has done a nice job,” Acta said. “He’s been impressive. He’s been able to stay in the strike zone and not walk guys. If he can keep doing that, he’ll be OK. Plus he has that power arm.”
Sheldon Ocker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Indians blog at https://ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/SheldonOckerABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.