Girardi confident Rogers will bounce back
NEW YORK -- Tantalized by his live arm, the Yankees grabbed right-hander Esmil Rogers off the waiver wire last summer, believing they could coax better results than his previous employer. Like the Blue Jays, however, they have thus far been unable to turn that talent into consistent output.
Rogers permitted all five batters he faced to reach base in an ineffective ninth-inning appearance on Friday, when the Yankees saw a comfortable seven-run lead nearly evaporate in an 8-7 victory over the Angels, but manager Joe Girardi said that the team is not giving up on him.
"He's struggled in the month of May and to start June," Girardi said. "I know his work has not been consistent, and sometimes it's more difficult as a pitcher, but when you're the long man, that happens. The big thing is, we have to get him going."
Rogers is 1-1 with a 6.39 ERA in 17 appearances for New York, permitting 36 hits in 31 innings with 14 walks and 29 strikeouts. He was 2-0 with a 4.68 ERA in 18 appearances last season after being released by Toronto.
"Things can change. We have a lot of games," Rogers said. "I'm going to keep working on everything I can to get better."
In fairness, Rogers' rough ninth inning was affected by a Grant Green popup that fell between second baseman Jose Pirela and first baseman Chase Headley. Complicating the matter somewhat for Girardi is that Rogers is one of only two right-handed relievers -- along with Dellin Betances -- in a lefty-dominant bullpen.
Rogers' right-handedness alone does not guarantee a bullpen spot, as the Yankees intend to trim a lefty in the near future, but the team is comfortable going forward with closer Andrew Miller, Chris Capuano, Chasen Shreve, Jacob Lindgren and Justin Wilson from the left side for the time being.
"Even though we are left-handed-dominant, I don't worry about it so much because our lefties have been good against right-handers," Girardi said.
Rogers' platoon splits are worrisome; righties are hitting .274 off him, and lefties are batting .342. Any upcoming decisions could be eased if Rogers begins to show the talent that opened the organization's eyes from afar in previous seasons.
"I believe the stuff is there. We've seen it," Girardi said. "He gets swings and misses, and he can get quick outs, and he has a good fastball and a good curveball. But his stuff has been inconsistent, and part of that could be not working on a normal basis sometimes as a long man. You've got to figure out a way to do that and be ready to pitch when you're called upon."