On the attack: Rogers impressive in first start
Marlins left-hander Trevor Rogers flashed an electric fastball and showed he will be tough to unseat from the rotation
By Joe Frisaro @ManOn2nd
JUPITER, Fla. — The sample size may only be about week, but it could be a month or more, and the bottom line is going to stay the same.
The Miami Marlins’ starting pitching is legit. It really is, and it was reinforced once again on Friday in Miami’s 1-0 win over the Astros at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium.
Miami’s top of the rotation stacks up with just about anyone in the National League. Sandy Alcantara and Pablo Lopez may be unsung in terms of public perception, but they are legitimate frontline starters who are just entering their primes.
How the back of the rotation settles is still to be determined. There’s plenty of Spring Training left to sort out the fourth and fifth starters.
One of those candidates took the mound on Friday afternoon, and if his two-innings are any indication, he will be tough to leave off the starting five.
Trevor Rogers impressed in two shutout innings. The 23-year-old left-hander got a taste of the big leagues last year, making seven starts, while going 1-2 with a 6.11 ERA.
Rogers had his moments of dominance in his 28 innings of MLB work. He struck out 39, and showed the ability to miss bats with his mid-90s fastball.
Rogers is a frontrunner to be in Miami’s Opening Day rotation, but he still has to reestablish himself in Spring Training. The organization, and coaching staff, doesn’t not want complacency, and is stressing competition.
So, the 6-foot-5 lefty hasn’t quite yet put himself into the “lock” column.
Rogers certainly pitched like he was ready to make a statement on Friday in two quick innings of work. In the first inning, he was on the attack with his fastball, which touched as high a 96.2 mph.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing for Rogers, who was was tested by the third Astros’ hitter. Michael Papierski grinded out a nine-pitch at-bat, but Rogers won the battle, snapping off a 82.5 mph slider, getting Papierski swinging.
Rogers issued a walk in the second, but he was hardly wild on the day. Of his 29 pitches, the lefty had 21 strikes.
Staying on the attack is a topic Rogers has addressed with pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr.
“It’s something Mel and I talked a lot about,” Rogers said. “When I debuted last year, that’s when I had my most success, [when I’m] pounding the strike zone. Going after them.”
Being on the attack sounds easier than it really is. Opponents advance scout, pick up on tendencies and patterns. The quality of a pitchers’ stuff also may change from start to start.
Rogers last year dealt with traffic on the bases. His WHIP was 1.61.
As the lefty tried to become less predictable, he didn’t rely too heavily on his four-seam fastball, which he threw 54.2 percent of the time, according to Statcast. Rogers used his slider 21.8 percent and his changeup 18.1 percent.
Rogers’ fastball is good enough to throw more often, especially when he can snap off sliders like he did on Friday.
“My first couple of starts last year, I was getting more to the aspect of pitching to their weaknesses instead of pitching to my strengths,” Rogers said. “That’s when I’m at my best, when I’m pitching to my strengths. Letting my fastball work. Throwing my slider off of that. Lefty on left changeups. Just stuff like that. I did that today. I was pitching to my strengths, and the outcome was good.”