Pressed into duty, kids show promise

May 2nd, 2021

With four starting position players on the injured list and another banged up to close out a three-city trip, the Marlins fielded some of their young players in Sunday afternoon's 3-1 loss to the Nationals at Nationals Park. Rookie was outdueled by veteran Max Scherzer, whose only mistake in a complete game was 's ninth-inning leadoff homer.

After being swept over the weekend to finish off a 3-7 road trip, the Marlins (11-16) return to South Florida five games below .500 for the first time since April 6. Monday is an off-day before the club opens a six-game homestand against the D-backs. While manager Don Mattingly expects third baseman Brian Anderson back on Tuesday, shortstop Miguel Rojas is nursing a tight hamstring and hip.

Below are some takeaways on how Miami's youngsters fared on Sunday:

• Rogers issued three walks across five innings, including two in the decisive third. Victor Robles reached on a free pass with one out and Josh Harrison followed with a single. But after Robles was caught stealing third, the southpaw had a chance to exit the inning unscathed. Instead, he walked Trea Turner on five pitches. After Rogers got ahead of Ryan Zimmerman with two changeups, the veteran first baseman sent a 96.7-mph four-seam fastball to straightaway center for a three-run homer.

In Rogers’ three victories on the season (all shutouts):
19 IP, 3 BB

In the other three outings:
14 IP, 10 BB

"I think that's definitely a big component of it, walking guys," said Rogers, who was victorious against Brewers ace Corbin Burnes last Monday during the road trip. "Definitely nitpicking and trying to be perfect, living on the edges. The guys out there, they're big league hitters. They know when you're trying to get edges, so they're going to wait till you come after them. That's something I need to get away from. Go back to what I was being successful with my last couple starts and that last inning [Sunday]. The last inning I kind of went back to just attack mode. Before I went out there, [pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr.] just hinted at me, 'Hey, go attack this guy,' and I kind of did a little reset and went after him and had good success. So if I can start doing that again from the first pitch, I’ll be good to go."

• Since Wednesday, Díaz has taken over second-base duties for Jazz Chisholm Jr. (left hamstring strain), who beat him out for the job out of Spring Training. With just 59 MLB games on his resume, the 24-year-old is trying to find consistent success at this level.

Though Díaz was hitless in his first seven at-bats of 2021 -- all from the seventh or eighth spots in the order -- he had walked four times. During Grapefruit League play, it was more of the same as Díaz collected seven free passes. On Sunday, his approach paid off as he went 2-for-4 with a single and a homer. He also sent a flyout (xBA of .340) deep to left-center to open the series finale. Each ball in play went to the opposite field or up the middle.

"I think that setting that sight for me helps me a lot," Díaz said. "It helps me stay through the ball longer, just helps me thinking that way puts me in the right direction. As long as I had the right plan, the right approach in setting my sights up the right way, then everything else kind of falls into place."

• Middle infielder (Miami’s No. 8 prospect), who is with the club because of Anderson’s injury, is gaining valuable experience. After striking out three times in his debut, the 21-year-old has fanned just once in his next six at-bats.

Devers collected his first Major League hit in the fifth inning -- an infield single on a comebacker to Scherzer. That ball will go to his mother. On his eighth-inning groundout, he recorded the fifth-highest exit velocity of the game at 106 mph. Devers also helped turn an impressive inning-ending 4-6-3 double play with Díaz in the fifth.

"It's what they take from it, quite honestly," Mattingly said of the opportunity. "We talked about guys who came up last year and had chances to learn lessons and go work on their game. We've seen what Trevor's done with that opportunity. Who knows what Devers does with that, being able to get here? His at-bats are getting better and better. This kid's going to be good. Obviously, he hasn't played much above High-A. This guy's going to be good, and so this experience is going to be good for him."