Starters' command issues hinder Marlins vs. Mets

Rogers (2 walks, 2 HBP) latest Miami starter to struggle in loss vs. New York

April 2nd, 2023

MIAMI -- The Marlins will only go as far as their starting pitching takes them.

Facing one of the more complete lineups in the Majors, Miami’s young rotation struggled against New York’s veteran group. Left-hander  was the latest victim in Sunday afternoon’s 5-1 loss to the Mets at loanDepot park.

“I chalk it up to a really good lineup from the Mets,” general manager Kim Ng said during Saturday’s Bally Sports Florida broadcast. “There’s All-Stars littered all over the field, and I think these guys have to navigate the lineup, and they have to prioritize. And they’re obviously going after these guys pretty hard, but when you look out there and you’ve got [Francisco] Lindor and [Jeff] McNeil and [Pete] Alonso, it's a lot, and even their bench players are really, really good.”

Last season, Marlins starters issued the 14th-most walks in the big leagues, while Mets batters accumulated the 11th-most free passes. During the four-game opening series, in which Miami dropped three of four, the starting pitching incurred a lot of self-inflicted damage, walking 16 of 85 batters faced (18.8%) in 19 2/3 innings. Miami’s relievers did a better job, walking just three of their 71 batters faced (4.2%). 

Manager Skip Schumaker’s staff has preached to the pitchers since Spring Training that their elite stuff plays in the zone. That's what makes this weekend's results so frustrating. In fact, left-hander and right-hander mentioned recording early outs as one of their primary goals in 2023 in order to go deeper in games. 

“They've just got to trust their stuff,” Schumaker said. “We have good enough stuff to get guys out. Yeah, it's a good lineup. The Minnesota Twins lineup is going to be good, too. But you've got to trust your stuff, let our defense play. Our defense is doing just fine. 

“So if they put balls in play, we feel good about us catching them. The walks are going to hurt us. When you're behind counts and ball one and that type of thing, typically those come back and score. They kind of hurt us this series. But first start of the year, hopefully start No. 2 is better.”

Here’s a breakdown of how each starter fared in the opening series:

Thursday: Four walks (two scored) across 5 2/3 innings in a 5-3 loss
Last time he did that: May 2, 2022 (Loss)
2023 Spring Training walk total: Four

Friday: Four walks (none scored) across 5 2/3 innings in a 2-1 win 
Last time he did that: May 10, 2022 (Loss)
2023 Spring Training walk total: Three

Saturday: Six walks (one scored) across four innings in a 6-2 loss
Last time he did that: Never
2023 Spring Training walk total: Six

Sunday: Two walks (none scored) and two hit-by-pitches across 4 1/3 innings
Last time he did that: July 6, 2022 (Loss)
2023 Spring Training total: Three walks, one hit-by-pitch

A pivotal sequence in Sunday’s series finale took place during Rogers’ 36-pitch first after first baseman Yuli Gurriel dropped a potential inning-ending double play. Rogers then threw eight straight balls to load the bases. Rogers had a chance to get out of the frame when McNeil hit a slow roller to him, but his shovel to Gurriel got away and scored two runs.

Rogers settled down to retire 10 of the next 11 batters until he plunked Tim Locastro to lead off the fifth. Tommy Pham followed with a two-run shot to extend the lead to 4-1, and Rogers was chased after hitting Francisco Lindor with one out.

“I was just really amped up that first inning,” Rogers said. “First outing of the year, kind of had a tough time really getting the heart rate under control. I was really just amped up, ready to go, and kind of got my command out of whack. So really just got to clean that up.

"If I make the play to McNeil, I get out of it. Just have to make that play. But overall, I thought my stuff was really good today. Got to limit the walks, but that'll come. Got plenty more starts ahead. Really just made one mistake to Pham, and he got it. So overall -- I mean, the scoreboard isn't going to say it, [there's] definitely room to improve, but I really liked where my stuff's at right now.”