Rogers deals another gem but Marlins fall

June 16th, 2021

The last time Marlins left-hander faced the Cardinals, he struggled to find the strike zone. Much has changed since then. He took the mound on Tuesday night at Busch Stadium as the two-time reigning National League Rookie of the Month. His dominant stretch continued, but Miami lost, 2-1, as Yimi García surrendered a walk-off homer to Paul Goldschmidt.

Rogers allowed one run on three hits -- all singles -- across six innings, striking out six and walking one. In his season debut on April 5 against St. Louis, Rogers walked a season-high four batters in the first and went a season-low four frames in a 4-1 St. Louis victory.

"It was in the back of my mind a little bit," said Rogers, who needed just 11 pitches in a perfect first inning this time around. "I know how I performed last time out, and I know I could have done a lot better. So going into the start, really wanted to show them that that wasn't my best stuff and I was going to come after them and attack the strike zone."

The 23-year-old Rogers switched up his game plan, heavily relying on a fastball/changeup combination while managing to work in some backdoor sliders. His changeup was getting under barrels and had late depth. His four-seamer was landing on the other side of the plate.

But Rogers would like to have back one throw -- not pitch -- in the sixth inning. St. Louis didn't get a runner past first base until his pickoff attempt sailed into foul territory, permitting José Rondón to reach third on the play. Rogers proceeded to strike out Dylan Carlson, but he gave up the game-tying, two-strike RBI single to Goldschmidt. With the offense unable to provide more run support, Rogers’ margin for error was slim.

"I thought he was good, and really the pickoff was good," manager Don Mattingly said. "It was on his own. That guy kind of looked like he was looking to go, and obviously Trevor can get long at times. He had the right thought. Probably got a little excited when he saw him actually go, and tried to get it to [Jesús Aguilar] a little quick, but that's basically what I saw."

Rogers, who had permitted three stolen bases through seven starts in 2020 and five in ‘21 entering Tuesday, said he didn’t rely on pickoff attempts throughout the Minors. Following his callup last season, he started incorporating them more. Rogers continues to work on his sidestep move.

"I knew he was taking off, tie ballgame trying to get in scoring position," Rogers said. "Lifting my leg, I saw he was going, saw Agui kind of creep forward to create a lane so he can throw the guy out. Just yanked it, that's all I can say. It's going to happen, unfortunately. That's baseball. Just got to learn from it, move on. At that point, just try to continue to make pitches and keep my team in the ballgame. I made a good pitch, and he just hit it. You tip your cap and keep going.”

Since Rogers’ season debut, he has compiled a 1.85 ERA over 13 starts. He has given up three or fewer runs in 15 straight starts dating back to last season, the longest streak by a Marlin since the late José Fernández (20 in 2013-14). Rogers is the first pitcher in Marlins history with at least 81 strikeouts and an ERA below 2.00 in his first 12 starts of a season.

Among rookie pitchers, Rogers leads in the following categories:

• Innings (81 2/3)

• Wins (seven)

• ERA (1.98)

• Strikeouts (95)

As a result, Rogers is an early frontrunner for NL Rookie of the Year. With each start, he gains the respect of opposing lineups.

"Rogers threw extremely well," Goldschmidt said. "He's been doing that this whole year. We knew it'd be a tough game, and just wanted to try to go out there and have some good at-bats. He was really hitting his spots. He didn't make many mistakes, and we were just kind of saying, 'Find a way to just get one run or get some guys on base.' We weren't able to do much off them, but that one run was big."