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Amid his hot streak, twin brother is on Taylor Rogers’ mind

September 18, 2018

Taylor Rogers is in the midst of the best couple months of his career so far, one of the best stretches in Twins history, in fact. But its been a disappointing September anyway.

Because of the Twins. And because of the twin.

Rogers entered Monday having appeared in 24 games since July 30, and hadnt given up a run in any of them, a stretch of 22 innings that included 26 strikeouts and only two walks. His ERA, bloated all summer by a couple of bad April outings, was down to 2.80, and he has become Paul Molitors favorite option for late-inning lefthanders.

But pitching well means less to Rogers if his team isnt in the pennant race and if his twin brother isnt in the major leagues.

Sometimes I feel guilty that Im here and hes not, because I havent worked any harder than he has, Rogers said of his identical twin Tyler, a reliever in the Giants system. I havent done anything different from he has. Its just where youre at, where youre drafted. Who gives you an opportunity.

Rogers was optimistic that the Giants would give Tyler a chance this September, after his righthanded, side-arming brother posted a 2.13 ERA for Class AAA Sacramento, following his 3.08 mark, with 10 saves, a year earlier.

I really had my hopes up this year that it would happen. But they called him in and told him they werent going to add him to the roster, Rogers said. I think I was more upset than he was. He doesnt want anybody feeling sorry for him. Hes got a good mind-set.

Still, the chance to become the 10th pair of twins to play in the majors is a goal the Rogerses, now 27, have had for a long time. If you think about it, baseballs been around 150 years, to only have 10 sets to do it, thats pretty sweet, Taylor said. I know itll happen one day. Weve just taken different paths. We look the same, but were completely different pitchers, apples and oranges on the mound. He just has to take his own path, and I do the same, and were both rooting for each other.

Theres been plenty to root for this year. Taylor Rogers established himself as a valuable member of the Twins bullpen in 2016, and last season led the majors in holds. But this year, concerned that his fastball-and-curveball approach wasnt giving him enough options, especially against righthanders, Rogers developed a third pitch.

Incorporating a slider has been good, as a whole. You work on something every day for awhile, it has a tendency to get better, he said. Its still in the working stages, but Ive been using it since May, and its giving hitters a new look.

Rogers has thrown his slider 13 percent of his pitches this year, according to Fangraphs, but it has been much higher during his scoreless streak. Hes still almost unhittable by lefties they were hitting .188 against him this year, and Rogers has somehow not given up an extra-base hit to a lefthander all season but the slider had helped him limit righthanders to a .233 average, more than 50 points lower than 2017.

Its been a nice weapon to incorporate, both to give the lefties a look at a second breaking pitch, but also the righties its a tough pitch for them to lay off, Twins manager Paul Molitor said. Hes been on a nice run here for quite awhile.

STATISTICALLY SPEAKING

Longest scoreless inning streaks by Twins relievers:

36 J.C. Romero, 2004

29 Joe Nathan, 2004

28⅔ Johnny Klippstein, 1965-66

26⅓ Juan Berenguer, 1988

25⅔ Johan Santana, 2002-03

25⅔ Larry Casian, 1993

25⅓ Tom Edens, 1992

22⅔ Joe Nathan, 2009

22 Taylor Rogers*, 2018

Only one player in Twins history has appeared in more games and been to the plate more times than Joe Mauer, whose career could end in less than two weeks.

1,939 Harmon Killebrew

1,846 Joe Mauer

1,783 Kirby Puckett

1,747 Kent Hrbek

1,676 Tony Oliva

Most plate appearances in Twins history:

8,018 Harmon Killebrew

7,904 Joe Mauer*

7,831 Kirby Puckett

7,137 Kent Hrbek

6,980 Rod Carew

*-through Sunday

Baseball reporters Phil Miller and La Velle E. Neal III will alternate weeks. phil.miller@startribune.com Twins blogs: startribune.com/twins

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