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Washington Nationals’ Josh Rogers made most of opportunity in D.C. in 2021

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Signed three days after he was released by the Orioles this summer, Josh Rogers joined the Nationals in September and made a strong impression down the stretch.

Washington Nationals v Miami Marlins Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Signed by the Washington Nationals three days after the Baltimore Orioles released him on June 1st, Josh Rogers worked his way up from Triple-A Rochester to the majors and made a half-dozen starts for the club down the stretch, impressing and making the most of his run with the third team he’s pitched for as a professional.

Rogers threw 35 23 innings in those six outings, putting up a 3.28 ERA, a 5.83 FIP, 14 walks (3.53 BB/9), 22 Ks (5.55 K/9), and a .241/.320/.436 line against in the majors, after he had a 3.70 ERA, a 4.47 FIP, 21 walks (2.59 BB/9), 49 Ks (6.04 K/9), and a .261/.318/.408 line against over 14 games (13 starts) and 73 IP for the Nationals’ top minor league affiliate.

“He’s done well,” Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez said when asked to assess Rogers’ time with the team after his final start of the 2021 campaign on October 1st. “I like his tempo, I like the way he works, and he’s going to go out there and give you everything he’s got, and he’s not afraid of throwing the ball over the plate, which is kind of nice.”

Martinez said he also liked some adjustments that Rogers made after a rough outing in his next-to-last outing of the season.

“The outing before this one, where I said, his timing was a little off, he was opening up,” the manager explained, “he was throwing a lot of arm-side. He worked hard in his bullpen, and as you can see, he got it right, and he threw the ball a lot better today. I liked what I see. He gave us a breath of fresh air. He’s got so much energy.”

“This winter he’s got to work hard and we’ll see what happens this spring,” Martinez added.

Rogers, 27, underwent (his second) Tommy John surgery in 2019, then he did not pitch in a competitive environment during 2020’s COVID season with no minor league baseball, and he was released following only four games (two starts) back with the Orioles’ Triple-A affiliate once he returned to the mound, so getting another opportunity, and a call-up to the majors with the Nationals meant a lot.

“It’s crazy,” Rogers told reporters over the final weekend of the regular season. “If you’d have told me I’d make six starts in the big leagues to start this year, I would have told you you’re crazy. Coming off my second Tommy John surgery, after getting released and re-signed, it’s been a crazy year for me. But me personally, I’m proud of myself for how far I’ve come and I made every single start and appearance this year, I’ve felt healthy, and I put myself in a position to do so. So, you know, I didn’t have two of the greatest starts to finish the year.

“Those first four were pretty good, but all in all I think it was a good season for me, and I’m going to head into the offseason and just work on things and make sure I come into camp ready to go.”

Rogers’ manager had some ideas about what the southpaw should be working on as he prepares for his second season in the Nationals’ organization.

“Continue to work on his changeup/slider,” Martinez said. “It’s been really good, and he’s really starting to like it a lot, and he wants to continue to work it, and the other thing is just continue to stay in the strike zone, but I want him to get stronger, obviously, and work on his lower half a little bit and get stronger there, and see what we have next year, but like I said, he pitched well, and we’ll bring him to Spring Training and we’ll see how he does.”

A motivated Rogers made a strong impression in his time in the organization. He made the most of his opportunity.

“He’s been — like I said, he’s been awesome, he’s been an unbelievable teammate, fun to be around, really enjoys doing what he does, and that’s to pitch, and competes,” Martinez said.

“I couldn’t ask for anything more. He got up here, and he worked hard to get back up to the big leagues, and he got up here and like I said, he showed us that he wants to be here.

“So it’s going to be a conversation this winter, and like I said, he’s going to come to Spring Training, and he’s going to fight for a job in Spring Training.”

Rogers said his goal over the winter is to bulk up a bit so he can be durable enough to make it through a full season in 2022.

“I’d lost a bunch of weight this past offseason, so I need to gain a little bit back,” Rogers explained.

‘Try to gain 10-12 pounds of some good weight, to just be a little more durable, and to make sure I’m healthy again and ready for the year.

“So I’ll do that and try to crisp up and make every pitch a little bit better and just hone in on that.”