The Brewers had been talking about shutting down Mark Rogers for weeks. On Saturday, they made it official — after making his third consecutive quality start on Friday, Rogers is done pitching in 2012.
Owner Mark Attanasio may have spoiled the surprise during his stop in the broadcast booth Friday night, but with rosters expanding and Rogers’ innings count rising, just about anyone could have predicted it going into that start.
Rogers threw just 44.1 innings last season as he battled carpal tunnel syndrome, then was suspended 25 games at the end of the year after testing positive for a banned stimulant.
Rogers threw 95.1 up-and-down innings with Triple-A Nashville this year before making his first big league appearance since 2010 on July 29. Taking Zack Greinke’s spot in the rotation, Rogers threw 39 mostly-effective innings with the Brewers this year, although he continued to struggle with efficiency. Only 407 of his 669 pitches in his seven starts — 60.8% — were strikes, and high pitch counts to less than 6 innings in all but two of his outings.
Perhaps a little concerning, too, was a subtle decline in Rogers’ velocity as his season went on. Through Rogers’ first three starts in the majors this year, he was averaging 94.4 mph on his fastball. You may remember that Rogers’ third start for the Brewers this year was his 7-inning outing in Houston, when he threw a season-high 109 pitches. In his last four outings of the year, Rogers averaged 93.0 mph on his fastball — a 1.4 mph drop from his first few starts.
That start in Houston isn’t the sole cause of Rogers’ velo drop — after all, the guy threw 90 more innings than he did this time last year. And while there was a dip in velocity, Rogers’ other pitches were still good enough that he was able to have success even if he was unable to reach back for 97 in some starts.
Rogers says he feels good and could keep pitching, but when you have the injury history Rogers does, the organization is going to be extremely careful, especially when there are going to be so many rotation spots to fill next year. By shutting Rogers down now, the Brewers are letting him end the year on a high note and fully healthy for the first time in years. There’s also a benefit to letting him pitch as long as they did: they’ve put themselves in the position to let him pitch 150-160 innings next year (if healthy) without a guilty conscience.
We’ve long said that anything the Brewers can get out of Mark Rogers would be gravy, and that they shouldn’t count on him to ever be fully healthy. Even with the successful bounceback campaign, that’s still true. But he has shown this year that when he is on the mound, he has the stuff and the makeup to provide some really good gravy.