Because he’s back in the bigs, and he’s now both good and fun.
The Yanks drafted Rogers originally out of Louisville in the 11th round back in 2015, the same year they headlined their haul with James Kaprielian, a Rookie of the Year candidate who blew fastballs by Pac-12 hitters, but was considered a bit volatile and — in the most nervous of circles — an injury risk.
Rogers wasn’t the flashiest prospect and didn’t steal Kaprielian’s headlines, but felt like a consummate winning lefty from a major college program who could probably distill that success into something at the big-league level.
Unfortunately, the injury concerns surrounding Kaprielian were real; he missed significant time over his first several seasons in the system. Rogers thrived, rocking a 2.38 ERA across two levels in 2016.
While he may not have shown enough to be considered a slam-dunk rotation piece in the Bronx, he did pique the attention of cross-checkers. That’s how he ended up as the third piece in the 2018 deadline Zack Britton trade with the Baltimore Orioles.
And that’s how, indirectly, he ended up bouncing around to the Washington Nationals in the back half of 2021, where he’s taken advantage of a bottom-of-the-barrel season to show off his stuff (and attitude) for the stretch run.
Ex-Yankees prospect Josh Rogers is thriving as a Nationals starter.
Fingers crossed he gets a start against the Red Sox during the final series of the year?
Rogers is never going to be someone who minimizes contact or blows a lineup away; he’s only recorded 16 strikeouts during his 25-inning breakout. However, a 2.16 ERA and 1.00 WHIP in four end-of-season starts is certainly something to build on … even if he has gotten lucky with a 4.52 FIP to his name.
The ceiling isn’t terribly high here, but the floor also appears to be closing in on it. It took a while, but Rogers has finally harnessed his abilities and found a way to retire big-league hitters on a consistent-enough basis to earn a rotation look next year.
Oh, and we almost forgot to mention: he’s built for the “Let the Kids Play” Era. Because you may have heard “contact-maximizing lefty” and thought, “This man is boring.”
He is not.
Look at what happened when he whiffed the eccentric Jazz Chisholm after Chisholm had smacked a homer off the Nats the day prior.
Rogers has let his personality emerge now that he’s gotten his feet securely under him in a pressure-free environment at the MLB level.
We’re not sure what his future looks like (under Patrick Corbin’s mentorship?), but hopefully he’s able to channel the intensity of a playoff stretch run and a little bit of his old Yankees mentality to take it to Boston during the season-ending set in DC.
The Britton trade resulted in 2.5 wonderful years in New York. The Yankees will never regret it. Rogers’ two weeks of starts are more intriguing than anything Dillon Tate has delivered in Baltimore, though, so we’ve got our eyebrows raised.