NEW YORK -- When baseball experts talk about the Marlins’ young, talented pitching staff, names like Sandy Alcantara and Sixto Sánchez are the first to roll off the tongue. But don’t forget to mention left-hander Trevor Rogers, who was dealing on Saturday afternoon at Citi Field as the Marlins blanked the Mets, 3-0.
From the start, Rogers was in for a fight because he was facing right-hander Jacob deGrom, one of the best pitchers in baseball. It turned out to be quite the battle as deGrom was up to the challenge, pitching eight innings, allowing one run and striking out 14 batters to tie his career high.
Initially, it looked like it might be a short day for Rogers. In the first inning, the Mets had runners on first and third with no outs. However, Rogers didn’t let the game speed up on him. He took his time and escaped the jam when catcher Chad Wallach threw out Francisco Lindor trying to steal second base. Rogers then struck out Michael Conforto and Pete Alonso to end the inning.
Rogers cruised through the next four innings, at one point retiring nine consecutive hitters.
"First of all, [Rogers] was throwing more strikes than the two previous outings that we saw him last year,” Mets manager Luis Rojas said. “We're aware that he had a really good camp. His velo was a tick up. He had a bunch of swings and misses from his fastball. He was not afraid to throw inside to the righties. He was mixing the slider well. He did a good job."
Rogers felt the heat in his final inning when he came out for the sixth. New York had runners on first and second with no outs, but Rogers performed an impressive escape act to get out of the inning. Lindor flied out to center fielder Starling Marte, while Conforto and Alonso struck out to end the threat.
“I ended up getting first-pitch strikes. You can just build off of that,” Rogers said. “You can put them in a hole right away. Get them in swing mode late. That’s the way I go about my success.”
Marlins manager Don Mattingly wasn’t surprised to see Rogers have a strong performance. The skipper remembered Rogers coming into Spring Training focused on improving his game.
“We are seeing him [grow up] right in front of our eyes,” Mattingly said. “I think he learned a lot of lessons last year and he is using them. That’s the key. The guys that can make adjustments here are the guys that are going to be really good.”
Rogers notched his first victory of the season thanks to second baseman Jazz Chisholm Jr., who hit a monster 107.4 mph home run off deGrom in the second inning that sailed into the Coca-Cola Corner seats at Citi Field.
“He made an effortless swing right there. It was pretty to watch,” Rogers said. “We could get up early and I can go out there and do my job. It was a confidence booster for us.”
The Marlins added to their lead in the ninth inning off Mets closer Edwin Díaz when Marte scored on a single by Jesús Aguilar and Miguel Rojas added an RBI knock.
“That was huge because we know what happened [in Thursday’s 3-2 loss],” Mattingly said. “We had the one-run lead going in. Then you are in harm’s way with every pitch. The Mets have a good offensive club over there. But those extra runs give some breathing room. You can afford to make a mistake.”
The last three innings of the game saw relievers Dylan Floro, Richard Bleier and Yimi García continue to shut down the Mets' bats, holding them scoreless as Garcia picked up his first save of the season.
After the game, Mattingly talked as if the Marlins were going to have a closer-by-committee this season.
“We have a good group back there. We have five to six guys back there we are going to end up trusting. ... That’s going to give us a lot of options as we move forward,” Mattingly said.