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Washington Nationals’ 2022 Rotation: Josh Rogers rocks way into Nats’ starting mix…

Released by the Orioles in June, Josh Rogers rocked his way into the Nats’ rotation…

Washington Nationals v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

“It’s crazy,” Josh Rogers told reporters of his journey in 2021, after his sixth start with the Washington Nationals this past September. Rogers, 27, signed with the organization on June 4th, three days after the Baltimore Orioles released the left-hander following just four appearances, two of them starts, after a year off in 2020’s COVID campaign spent rehabbing from his second Tommy John surgery.

“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,” Rogers continued. “Coming off my second Tommy John surgery — so 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.”

Rogers posted 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, the Rochester Red Wings, then returned to the majors for six outings over which he had 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 35 23 IP.

“I didn’t have two of the greatest starts to finish the year,” Rogers said of two relatively tough outings which closed out his season. “Those first four were pretty good, but all in all 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 the season ready to go.”

The southpaw said he was focused on preparing himself physically for the rigors of a full season on the mound.

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

Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez said at the end of the 2021 season that he wanted to see Rogers, “continue to work on his changeup/slider,” this offseason.

Rogers threw his four-seam fastball 51.2% of the time in his six big league outings, with opposing hitters putting up a .270 AVG on the pitch, mixing in his slider (35.5%, .225 BAA), and changeup (12.9%, .158 BAA).

“It’s been really good,” Martinez said of Rogers’ slider, “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.”

So far, so good though, his manager said of the twitchy, rocking left-hander’s work with the Nationals.

“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. The outing before this one, where I said, his timing was a little off, he was opening up, and 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.”