For earning the first save of his professional career Friday, Taylor Rogers received the game ball, praise from his manager — and, the next morning, a text from his brother: “It doesn’t count.”
“He saw it was just two pitches,” Rogers said Saturday of his unimpressed sibling, a day after the Twins beat Detroit 5-4. “Not enough, I guess.”
Tyler Rogers knows saves, after all. He is the identical twin of the Twins lefthander, born about 30 seconds after Taylor and happens to own 26 minor league saves in the Giants system. Before that, he was the NCAA single-season record-holder for saves, having finished off 23 victories at Austin Peay in 2013. Now the righthanded sidearmer — about as different from his brother’s over-the-top lefthanded style as you can get — owns a 1.92 ERA in the bullpen at Class AAA Sacramento and figures to soon join Taylor in the major leagues.
So if Tyler said it’s not impressive enough to count, well … wait, what’s that?
“It was a one-run game with a runner in scoring position,” Trevor Hildenberger said, overhearing the conversation from the next locker. “That definitely counts.”
The thing is, Rogers would love a chance to add a few more saves, even if they took more than two pitches. He is in his third season in the Twins bullpen, has appeared in 181 games, and only four times has he taken the mound in the ninth inning with a lead.
The Twins have no established closer at the moment, though Hildenberger seems to be a frontrunner for that designation eventually. Wouldn’t Rogers like a few save opportunities, too?
“Absolutely. Any time you can impact the game like that, it’s fun,” Rogers said. He’s not complaining about his role, but he clearly feels he can do more. Twins manager Paul Molitor “does really good job of putting relievers in positions where they can have success,” Rogers said. “I trust him to set me up where I can help the most.”
A former starter in the minor leagues, Rogers said he has long since adapted to the bullpen, and loves the day-to-day nature of it. “It’s cool because [when] I look back on the season last year, I threw in 70 games, and I can say, ‘I affected almost half the games,’ ” he said. “So that’s kind of cool. And sometimes if you’re fresh and [the opponent] has a couple of lefties on the bench, they might not pinch-hit because they know you’re back there. So just having a way to impact the game is fun, and if you have a bad game today, you’re back up the next day.”
Besides, statistics for non-closers have never really caught the public’s imagination the way saves have, but Rogers believes holds — credited when a pitcher inherits and preserves a lead but is removed before it’s over — are gaining more credibility. That’s great for him, considering his 30 holds led the majors last year.
• The Twins honored Jack Morris in a pregame ceremony on the field, for his induction last month into the Hall of Fame. He was flanked by fellow St. Paul natives and Hall of Famers Dave Winfield and Molitor as he spoke, and Joe Mauer, yet another St. Paul native, caught Morris’ ceremonial first pitch. “You inspired me more than you could imagine,” Morris told his hometown fans, “to give the best performance of my career” in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series.
• Molitor announced after Saturday’s game that outfielder Johnny Field will be sent to Class AAA Rochester. The Twins didn’t immediately name a replacement, but Robbie Grossman, 5-for-11 during three games this weekend on a rehab assignment with Rochester, is eligible to be activated from the disabled list.
• Righthander Matt Belisle threw about 30 pitches in a pregame bullpen session and reported no problems with the sore knee that forced him onto the DL 10 days ago.