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Will Alex Colome be an upgrade over Taylor Rogers?

Colome has been consistent over his career, but what makes him better than Rogers?
Alex Colome

Prior to the 2020 season, few relievers had been as good as Taylor Rogers has been for the Minnesota Twins. Although it took a season to find his stride, Rogers was dominant from 2017-19 and recorded 32 saves.

But 2020 was a tough year for Rogers, posting a career-high 4.05 ERA and 1.50 WHIP in 20 games. With Rogers being replaced by Sergio Romo at the end of the season, the Twins believed they needed an upgrade at the closer position heading into 2021.

That upgrade came with the signing of Alex Colome. As a former top-100 prospect in the Tampa Bay Rays organization, Colome made his debut in 2013 and has been one of the most consistent relief arms in baseball.

With USA Today's Bob Nightengale reporting that Colome will take over the Twins closer's role, it seems like Rogers will be relegated back to the set-up role he excelled in prior to the 2019 season. 

The question to be asked is whether Colome is a suitable replacement for Rogers and if the Twins bullpen becomes better with a swap of relievers heading into the ninth inning.

If there's one thing that Colome has going for him, it's experience. Colome has been primarily used as a closer since the 2016 season both with Tampa Bay and the Chicago White Sox.

During his four seasons as a closer, Colome has converted 88.4 percent of his save opportunities and led the league in saves with Tampa Bay in 2017. This, along with a career 2.95 ERA, suggests that Colome will at least give the Twins an elite level of late-game experience.

But there's also something to be said about what Rogers brought to the table as the Twins closer. While he doesn't have the lengthy resume, Rogers has some numbers that match up better when heading into the late innings.

For their career, Rogers has posted a better strikeout rate than Colome, punching out 9.9 batters per nine innings compared to Colome's 8.9. In addition, Rogers has also been better at limiting his walks with a 4.44 strikeout-to-walk ratio compared to 3.02 for Colome.

There's also the notion that 2020 was a weird year in terms of stats and point to positive regression for Rogers. The biggest counter was his batted balls in play average (BABIP) which was a lofty .400 last season. 

The odds of Rogers making opposing hitters look like Ted Williams aren't good and with his strikeout and walk rates comparable to his 2019 season, it's possible that Rogers was a victim of small sample size and could be better this season.

But Colome has also been able to limit what opposing hitters do when they get a hold of his pitches. Only 3.1 percent of Colome's pitches were designated on the "sweet spot" by Statcast last season and 32.8 percent hard-hit rate was much below Rogers' 41.9 percent rate in 2020.

Either way, the Twins weren't leaving anything to chance by signing Colome. With a one-year, $5 million investment that was the same price as keeping Sergio Romo for 2021, the Twins have added an experienced closer to a bullpen that gets plenty of usage from an analytics friendly coaching staff.

This will give Rocco Baldelli multiple options when heading into the late innings and help the Twins compete once again in 2021.

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