Small things fall into place for Rogers in rebound start

Southpaw cruises through Braves' lineup, with assist from his defense

April 13th, 2024

MIAMI -- Both the Marlins and their Triple-A affiliate began games around the same time on Friday night. While left-hander was tasked with neutralizing the Braves, fellow southpaw Braxton Garrett was set for his second rehab start with the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp.

Though Rogers took the loss in an 8-1 defeat to the Braves at loanDepot park, he pitched into the sixth inning and continues to show progress after an injury-plagued 2023. Garrett tossed six frames and built up his pitch count to 86 in what likely completes his final rehab assignment.

Miami has dropped its first eight home games, one shy of the franchise record set by the 1995 ballclub at Joe Robbie Stadium. At 2-12 overall, this marks the worst 14-game stretch to open a season in Marlins history.

If the Marlins hope to climb out of this hole, they will need the rotation to step up. After opening 2024 with four starting pitchers on the injured list, Miami is close to seeing two of them return in Garrett and right-hander Edward Cabrera, who is scheduled for a fifth rehab outing on Wednesday. This means the Marlins will have decisions to make in the near future.

“In this industry, you're judged every single day,” manager Skip Schumaker said. “I'm judged. The coaches are judged. The players are judged. That's what you do. You assess every single day to try to figure out how to win tomorrow, [to] put your best team out there. So I think what it's showing is [that] Trevor Rogers was on the attack. That usually helps you win games. [Max] Fried was on the attack. It helps you win games.

“When you're not on the attack -- it's tough to keep giving you opportunities if you keep putting us in holes, right? That's just the reality of the game. … So for him to do that against that lineup I thought was fantastic. It shows even against really good lineups, just try to put it in the zone as much as you can and usually good things happen, even against a really good lineup.”

Rogers did enough to warrant a better outcome on Friday, exiting after the first two batters reached in the sixth. He gave up two runs on eight hits with five strikeouts. His first free pass of the game dragged Schumaker out of the dugout to pull his pitcher.

The 26-year-old Rogers, who walked seven in 10 frames in his first two starts, pounded the zone in an 80-pitch outing with 56 strikes. He often got ahead with 19 of 23 first-pitch strikes.

Both RBI knocks -- an Austin Riley first-inning double and an Ozzie Albies two-out bloop single in the fifth -- came on changeups. The latter was the only pitch Rogers wished he had back.

Entering the series opener, Rogers had thrown the changeup only 22.5 percent of the time -- the lowest among his four offerings. According to Rogers, the pregame meeting focused on Atlanta’s ability to hit in-zone spin, which would mean living on the edges. So the game plan called for relying on his changeup as his best secondary option.

“He did a good job locating,” Braves catcher Travis d’Arnaud said. “He was getting his heater in and out, and up and down as well. He kept his offspeed down and got us to chase a little bit, too. He had a really good start.’”

Rogers also got help from Vidal Bruján, who made his first start at shortstop this season with Tim Anderson under the weather. To open a 19-pitch third inning, Rogers permitted a double from d’Arnaud followed by a Ronald Acuña Jr. single.

With runners at the corners and no outs, Bruján recognized the slower runner in d’Arnaud and threw him out at home on Albies’ grounder to short. Two batters later, with Acuña at third, Rogers froze Matt Olson on a changeup to end a nine-pitch battle. Bruján later robbed d’Arnaud of a hit in the fifth.

“It was huge,” said Rogers, who pumped his fist following the Olson strikeout. “I knew if I just executed the pitch that my chances were pretty good at getting out of that inning. I think the past two starts I've been feeling really good, but the small things weren't really going my way, and having only one walk today was huge. I knew if I just executed that pitch it was huge for the confidence and the rest of the game for me going forward.”