'Poised' Rogers nearly unhittable in debut

August 26th, 2020

"Next prospect up" has been a theme for the Marlins all season.

, the club's No. 9 prospect, got his turn in Game 2 of Tuesday’s doubleheader against the Mets, and the 22-year-old showed plenty of promise in his Major League debut.

Rogers threw four shutout innings, and Brian Anderson delivered a two-run double in the fourth inning to lift the Marlins to a 3-0 victory over the Mets and a sweep of the twin bill at Citi Field.

It’s the first time in franchise history that the Marlins swept a doubleheader while posting shutouts in both games. They took the opener, 4-0.

Rogers is the 15th Miami player to make his MLB debut this season, and the fourth pitcher to do so. The lefty noted that the prospects working out at the alternate training site in Jupiter, Fla., are all eager to reach the big leagues.

"That alternate site is loaded with unbelievable talent," Rogers said. "The bats down there, it's never an easy at-bat. The arms we've got down there -- just competing every day down there, in that Jupiter sun, it's not always easy. Those guys are putting in the work and they're hungry. It's good to see."

The Marlins put an exclamation point on the night in the sixth inning when Jon Berti stole home, after also swiping second and third. The steal of home came as Berti moved in the direction of returning to third after Mets reliever Jeurys Familia delivered his pitch. But as Mets catcher Ali Sánchez lobbed the throw back to the mound, Berti sprinted toward home and stole the base standing up -- despite stumbling along the way.

“These in-division games mean everything,” Rogers said. “We battled, put together some tough [at-bats]. Being aggressive on the basepaths -- Berti stealing home, getting that insurance run late in the game. They're battling, just every single at-bat, every single inning. Never say die. It turned out well.”

Out of necessity, Rogers received his first big league promotion. The organization initially planned to be guarded with the towering 6-foot-6 left-hander out of New Mexico's Carlsbad High School.

“He was good. He was poised,” manager Don Mattingly said. “The stuff was good. It's good to see. He looked like he was under control the whole time out there. It was good."

With three starters on the injured list -- Sandy Alcantara, Caleb Smith and José Ureña -- and the Marlins playing their second doubleheader in three days, Game 2 became Rogers’ turn to take the mound.

Rogers, along with Josh A. Smith, who picked up the win, and Nick Vincent, who logged the save, limited the Mets to four hits across the seven-inning shutout.

"I don't want to say it's embarrassing,” Mets first baseman Dominic Smith said. “You've got to give the Marlins a lot of credit. If you saw them play against us over the last several years, they might not have been the best team in baseball, but as far as how scrappy they are, how hard they play, how aggressive they are as a team -- and Don Mattingly does a great job at motivating a lot of those young guys to play hard and play aggressive."

The Marlins were the home team because the nightcap was a makeup for the Thursday game at Marlins Park that was postponed due to two positive COVID-19 tests with the Mets -- one player and one staff member.

Rogers, the cousin of former Marlins outfielder Cody Ross, allowed one hit, while striking out six and walking five in four innings. He was lifted after 87 pitches, 48 of which went for strikes.

“You can't nibble around these guys,” Rogers said. “They'll know when you're kind of going away from them, and attack as soon as you go over the plate. The best bet is go right at them, attack. First-pitch strikes.”

According to Statcast, Rogers threw 53 four-seam fastballs, which averaged 94.4 mph, with a high of 96.1 mph. He got 10 swinging strikes with that pitch, while adding 18 sliders and eight changeups.

Sporting No. 95, Rogers became the first player in franchise history to wear that number.

Rogers, the 13th overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft, split time in 2019 between Class A Advanced Jupiter and Double-A Jacksonville. The southpaw combined to put up a 2.90 ERA over 136 1/3 innings.

Any case of nerves was quashed in the first inning, as his first pitch was a 93 mph fastball, taken for a strike by Brandon Nimmo. Rogers’ first big league strikeout came on a 96 mph fastball that J.D. Davis swung through in the first.

Even though Rogers dealt with traffic on the bases, he wiggled out of a bases-loaded jam in the second inning, striking out Sánchez on a 2-2, 95 mph fastball. In the fourth, the Mets had runners on the corners with one out, but Rogers again escaped by fanning Luis Guillorme and retiring Sánchez on a fly ball to center.

“My fastball was playing well up in the zone, and I kept going at them until they beat me,” Rogers said. “It turned out well. I got out of some tough jams.”