Lessons learned in Trevor Rogers' rookie MLB season with the Miami Marlins
Trevor Rogers did not plan on making his Major League Baseball debut in the middle of a global pandemic. But from the minute he was called up by the Miami Marlins, Rogers showed he did belong in the Big Leagues.
From his call up to the Marlins on Aug. 23 until Miami's Game 3 elimination in the National League Division Series, the Carlsbad native pitched in eight games and started in seven of them. He finished the season 1-2 with 39 strikeouts and an earned run average of 6.11.
"I was really excited that I got to go to the postseason my first year," Rogers said. "I wish it could have worked out better with us still in it, but I got to come out of the bullpen and experience what it's like to pitch in the postseason. There's not a whole lot to complain about."
Rogers learned something new after each game and tried to apply that knowledge to the next one. After the season ended, Rogers spoke with the Carlsbad Current-Argus about some of his milestone moments – both the good and the bad – and what he gained from each experience.
MLB debut: Aug. 25 vs. New York Mets
About 48 hours before Rogers toed his first MLB chalk line, he was still in Jupiter, Florida with the self-described "taxi squad" when he got a phone call from the Marlins, informing him he'd be pitching against the New York Mets.
"My first thought was 'Oh my god, this is happening. I got to make sure I've packed everything up and got to make sure I don't forget anything,'" he said. "There's a lot of stuff racing through your head."
Rogers threw four scoreless innings, giving up one hit and five walks. He also struck out six batters.
Miami scored two runs in the bottom of the fourth inning. Rogers earned a no-decision because Miami took the lead after his day ended. Rogers would have needed to a pitch a minimum of five innings, per MLB rules, to be credited for the win, but showed he belongs in the majors.
Lesson learned: "I knew I could compete at the highest level. Probably the main thing is to know that I don't have to be perfect. I have good stuff. I have good velocity. I can compete in the zone and not get hurt. I had a lot of walks and I had to learn that I can compete in the strike zone."
First MLB win: Aug. 31 vs. New York Mets
Once again, Rogers faced the Mets. Now with knowledge of the New York's batting tendencies and the confidence that he can compete in the majors, Rogers got his first win of the season.
He lasted five complete innings, struck out five batters, gave up two earned runs on five hits and walked two batters on 89 total pitches.
Lesson learned: "The most important pitch is strike 1. Knowing that I had a game plan and that I had just faced them meant I knew what to do to stay in the game longer."
Longest MLB outing: Sept. 6 vs. Tampa Bay Rays
One more game, one more inning of work for the left-handed rookie.
Rogers threw six innings and set a new mark with 10 strikeouts in the game, but he gave up three solo home runs. Rogers also set career highs with 100 pitches and 23 total batters faced.
The Marlins and Rays were tied at 3-3 when Rogers left, and Tampa won 5-3 in extra innings.
Lesson learned: “I needed to keep attacking. I really started going to my breaking ball. I had that dialed in. It was a little tough in the first inning but something clicked in the third or fourth inning and I only made three mistakes in the game, all homers."
Roughest MLB outing: Sept. 11 vs. Philadelphia Phillies
This was the first time Rogers was pulled after only three innings.
The Phillies noted Rogers’ pitching stance was slightly different when he was throwing his fastballs and breaking pitches.
Philadelphia got nine runs, eight of them earned, off nine hits in Rogers' 72 pitches. The Phillies cruised to an 11-0 win in seven innings and handed Rogers his first MLB loss.
Lesson learned: "Instead of coming out with my hands in my glove I now bring them set right around my belt so they can't get a read on my pitches."
Most efficient outing: Sept. 26 vs. New York Yankees
The Marlins had already clinched a postseason berth the day before and didn't want to use up Rogers. Miami wanted to keep him in his normal routine and have him start, but planned to limit him to three or four innings.
In the three innings pitched, Rogers recorded an out against eight of the nine batters he faced. The only Yankee to get a hit off him in the game, DJ LeMahieu, got a double and a single. Otherwise, Rogers recorded four strikeouts in his three innings of work.
Lesson learned: "That's probably the strongest I've felt mentally as far as attacking guys. That gave me a lot of confidence going into the postseason."
Shortest outing: Oct. 8 vs. Atlanta Braves
After Miami swept the Chicago Cubs in the Wild Card round of the MLB Postseason, the Marlins planned to use Rogers in Game 4 of the Divisional Series against Atlanta.
The problem was Atlanta jumped out to a 2-0 series lead, just one away from advancing to the National League Championship series.
With Atlanta up 4-0, Rogers entered Game 3 in a relief effort. Atlanta continued hitting well, and Rogers was taken out after 1 2/3 innings of work. Atlanta went on to win the game 7-0 and sweep the series.
Lesson learned: "It was win-or-go-home for us. It's a whole different scenario to come out of the bullpen. As far as starting goes you can get a feel for your pitches (at the start) but when you come out of the bullpen (the batters) are already hacking because they got their timing down. You make one little mistake they're going to hurt you."
Now in the off-season, Rogers plans to relax for a few weeks and play a lot of golf before returning to his spring training regimen.
The Marlins are scheduled to play the New York Mets on Feb. 27, 2021 in Port St. Lucie, Florida to open Spring Training.
Matthew Asher covers sports for the Carlsbad Current-Argus. He can be reached at 575-628-5524, firstname.lastname@example.org or @Caveman_Masher on Twitter.
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