The Miami Marlins got the second half of their season started with a doubleheader against the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday.
Possibly the brightest spot in the team’s otherwise disappointing first half was rookie LHP Trevor Rogers, who was the team’s lone representative at the 2021 All-Star Game in Colorado.
Rogers was back from Colorado and in front of the media on Friday to discuss what he described as an “unbelievable” experience at the midsummer classic.
“It was a blast getting to know all those guys and really experiencing all of it, especially with my girlfriend and all my family,” Rogers said. “Watching the Home Run Derby, it was so much fun. I had an absolute blast.”
The 23-year-old Rogers was the only rookie on the National League roster, and the only NL players younger than him were Fernando Tatis Jr., Ronald Acuña Jr., and Juan Soto. He said for him it was all about taking in every moment of the experience.
“When I was out there for BP I was literally just looking around at everything, really just taking it in,” Rogers said. “Just that whole experience, really took a step back and really experience it all, each and every day. Got to pitch in the All-Star Game which was awesome. So yeah it was a really, really cool experience.”
Rogers said when he was running out of the bullpen to pitch in the fifth inning is when it really all hit him.
“I’m like ‘man, I’m here with the best players in the world and I get to pitch to em,’” Rogers said. “It’s something that I’ll never take for granted and I’m truly thankful for.”
Rogers threw 18 pitches in the fifth inning, 15 of which were for strikes. He allowed two runs, both unearned, on two hits and picked up a strikeout of Red Sox DH JD Martinez. Martinez doubled twice off Rogers when he faced him earlier this year, so he was happy to get him back.
“[laughs] It was awesome, got to face him in Boston and he hit me pretty good, so I got to face him and I got him, and it was pretty cool getting that guy,” Rogers said.
After the inning was complete Yankees RF Aaron Judge said something to Rogers, but he said he could not recall what was said.
“The moment was just so much that I can’t remember exactly what he told me, it was just kind of a whirlwind,” Rogers said. “That inning was pretty special. It went so fast it felt like I only threw like three pitches, so I kinda wanted to go out there for another one.”
For young guys, the All-Star Game is often heralded as a learning experience. It can be a time to pick the brains of some of the league’s best, and turn out to be a very beneficial trip for their development. Manager Don Mattingly said he believes it can be a confidence builder for young guys.
“Going to that game, being around all the best players in the game, seeing that whole picture, you come back from that with a load of confidence,” Mattingly said. “It doesn’t mean that you’ve arrived, you have to continue to work, but just seeing that is really good for you as a player. Being able to accomplish that should make you want to continue to be at that level.”
Rogers said one of the guys whose brain he really got to pick was Giants RHP Kevin Gausman, whose 1.73 ERA is second to some guy named Jacob deGrom in all of baseball this year (Rogers is eighth).
Gausman had some mixed success in his career before he became the dominant starter we have seen this year. He told Rogers that he was always a fastball/splitter guy, it just took him seven years to figure it out. He gave Rogers a piece of advice that really stuck with him.
“He said ‘the hitters will let you know when you need to make a change,’” Rogers said. “I really took that into consideration, put that in the back of my mind, that really the hitters will let you know when you need to make an adjustment, and keep doing what gives you success.”
I asked Rogers if there was a guy he was starstruck by. His answer did not surprise.
“Definitely Max Scherzer,” Rogers said. “I kinda kept my distance a little bit, kinda just watching him do his thing, but it was cool to be in the same clubhouse as that guy.”
Padres closer Mark Melancon was a guy that Rogers said he was surprised by how starstruck he made him.
“He’s been in the game a really long time, got to have a couple conversations with him, really good guy and really insightful guy as well,” Rogers said.
Rogers finished the first half with a 2.31 ERA and 122 K in 101.1 IP and two NL Rookie of the Month honors. A good second half could lock up the NL Rookie of the Year for the Marlins lefty.
However, how much Rogers pitches in the second half remains a major question mark. It is expected the Marlins will try and cap their star rookie somewhere between 170 and 180 innings. Even so, the oddsmakers consider him a sizable favorite for the award.
Rogers will kick off his second half on Monday against the Nationals.