December 3, 2022

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Rogers still confident: 'I have a lot of room to grow'

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LHP struggled with walks, changeup in shortest outing of career

MIAMI — Marlins left-hander Trevor Rogers finished as the runner-up for the 2021 National League Rookie of the Year Award. With that success comes more information for opposing scouting reports and a bigger target.

It looked like Rogers might have brought his “A” game when he struck out leadoff batter J.T. Realmuto on Saturday night, but things quickly unraveled in a 10-3 loss to the Phillies at loanDepot park. Rogers recorded just five outs in the shortest start of his career, surrendering seven runs — his most since allowing nine (eight earned) on Sept. 11, 2020, also against Philadelphia.

“I have a lot of room to grow,” Rogers said. “I’ve had a lot of success. I had a great year last year, but right now I’m just not throwing the ball well. Really looking forward to getting with [pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr.] tomorrow, looking over the film, and really coming up with a game plan and how we can move forward from this.”

The 24-year-old southpaw needed 40 pitches in a two-run first, which could’ve ended on a botched pickle that saw second baseman Jon Berti and first baseman Garrett Cooper collide in a first-and-third situation. Rogers threw another 23 pitches the next frame before being chased during a six-run second. It took a toll on his fastball velocity, which maxed out at 97.5 mph and dipped to a low of 91.3 mph on a second strikeout of Realmuto.

But a two-start trend stands out even more: Rogers hasn’t recorded a whiff on his changeup in the 33 times he has thrown the pitch this season. He had a 33.7% whiff rate with the pitch in 2021. While interviewing Stottlemyre during the game, Bally Sports Florida broadcaster J.P. Arencibia noted the Phillies did a good job spitting on the changeup, almost as if they knew what was coming. Stottlemyre credited Philadelphia’s game plan and went on to say what cost Rogers most was the four free passes — his most since June 29, 2021, also against the Phillies.

“There’s some other things, some adjustments, that we’ve got to get over, and we’ve got to get better at,” Stottlemyre said. “When you face veteran clubs and you have nasty stuff, they’re going to spend a lot of time studying you. We’ve got to keep from being predictable, and we’ve also got to give ourselves a chance and maybe stay away from giving things away. All young guys go through it — this is how they adjust, and how quick they adjust and overcome some of those things. 

“He’s going to get back up on the horse. We’re going to highlight some of the good things he was doing before he backed himself into a corner, and then we’re going to go over the film and we’re going to talk about what our adjustments are. We’ve got to get past those. We don’t have time to make the same mistakes over and over again. We’ve got to get good real quick. He’s bright enough and he’ll definitely move on. I know that about him.”

Added Phillies manager Joe Girardi: “I just think we have good hitters. I mean, he’s a really good pitcher. He’s been as tough on us as anyone. He’s got great stuff. He just got in some long at-bats and threw a lot of pitches, and I think we wore him down a little bit. But the kid’s got really good stuff.”

If there are any silver linings, Cody Poteet provided length (3 1/3 innings) in his second relief appearance to help the 10-man bullpen after manager Don Mattingly already had turned to long man Daniel Castano in Friday’s victory.

Poteet, who was warming up during the first inning and would’ve gone in had Rogers not retired Johan Camargo for the third out, began his MLB career in the rotation. Through his first four starts of 2021, he posted a 2.95 ERA before right knee trouble impacted his next three outings and sidelined him for the remainder of the season.

“He did a really nice job of keeping the game right there, and really not just saving our bullpen, but really kind of leaving us in a spot that if we were able to tack on a run here, a couple more there, that we would have been back in the game,” Mattingly said.

Another positive was Jorge Soler and Avisaíl García going deep, each for the first time this season. They were Miami’s free-agent signings to bolster the lineup. Entering Saturday, the duo had combined for just two extra-base hits and no RBIs.

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