Rogers Outduels deGrom
Ladies and gentlemen, the real Trevor Rogers has stood up.
After a rough first inning and premature outing his first time on the hill in 2021 at loanDepot park this past week, the 2017 first round draft pick was dominant in his second start of the season today against the Mets. Going up against perennial Cy Young candidate Jacob deGrom during the opening series at Citi Field, Rogers twirled a six inning gem, limiting New York to just three hits and two walks while tying a career high in strikeouts with 10. Speaking on his outing postgame, Don Mattingly stated Rogers’ development is clear and evident.
“We’re seeing him grow up right in front of our eyes,” Mattingly said. “You can just see the focus in his work and everything that he does.”
Mattingly said a big key to Rogers’ success has been his ability to take a lot out of his experience in the majors in 2020, building off both his successes and his mistakes.
“He’s put himself in good positions because he’s got good routines now,” Mattingly said. “I think he learned a lot of lessons last year and he used them. That’s a key: the guys that can make adjustments here are the guys that are going to be really good.”
In his first inning of work of the year in his previous start, Rogers required nearly 40 pitches to get through the St. Louis Cardinals. Ultimately, he would wind up going 4.1 innings. On Saturday, Rogers didn’t reach the 40 pitch mark until the fourth inning (during one of three strikeouts by Friday’s controversial centerpiece, Michael Conforto). For Rogers, the biggest difference from last start to this one was in how he paced himself and stayed loose.
“Last start, first inning, I kind of let the emotions and the game speed up on me,” Rogers said. “I just made sure to breathe and really take my time. I wanted to make sure I was getting down the slope and not pulling off. Just really making quality pitches.”
With his emotions in line, Rogers went right after hitters, attacking them in the zone early in the count then relying on his breakers and pinpoint command to finish them off. Rogers threw a first pitch strike to each of the first 10 Mets that stepped to the plate against him and to 15 of 22 total. Rogers said that was and always has been a key to success for him.
“That’s pretty much the foundation of how I got about guys: getting that first pitch strike and then you can just build off that,” Rogers said. “You put them in a hole right away, get them in swing mode.”
On getting to go up against one one the best in the game and getting the better of him on the ledger, Rogers credited his and the team’s ability to prepare properly but not press.
“Best in baseball, Jacob deGrom is,” Rogers said. “You really have to bring your best and then some. To see me and our whole team go out and compete with the best, it just shows you how good we are.”
One big difference in Trevor’s arrival has been the very quick build of his changeup. Still a work very nascent pitch for him during spring training 1.0 in 2020, Trevor has built that pitch up this:
Here is the mapping of that pitch in this start.
Rogers utilized the changeup within five of his 10 Ks.
When he is getting ahead in the count and mixing and locating all three pitches, Rogers is a deadly combo of velo and at the very most, weak contact. An absolutely dominant outing in his second start of the season and nonetheless on the road in a day game after the team plane did not land in to New York until around 1 AM that same morning, this was a testament to Rogers’ level of focus, athleticism and maturity. In more ways than one, he has fully arrived.
Jazz Goes Yard
Coming in to Thursday’s game, Mets ace Jacob deGrom was virtually untouchable in his career in 0-2 counts, sporting a .136 BAA and 55% career strikeout rate. He had never allowed a home run in that situation in his career. Then, in the second inning, Jazz Chisholm Jr. stepped to the plate for his first career AB against deGrom and did this:
The first home run deGrom has ever allowed in his eight year major league career came on an 100 mph fastball up and out of the zone against a guy taking his 74th career major league at bat. How did Jazz get to that ball let alone hit it out, .307/.358/.471 career hitter Don Mattingly?
“It’s not necessarily a pitch you’re gonna hit that often,” Donnie said. “You’re talking about over 100 out of the box above the zone. It’s a tough pitch to get to. But today was a day that Jazz caught that one.”
“Jazz is a guy who is nice and loose, Mattingly added “I think his hands work good and he sees the ball good.”
According to Chisholm, he viewed the opportunity to go up against deGrom as an honor and a career defining moment, but he didn’t think his 100 mph heat was as intimidating as other pitchers.
“I couldn’t have been more excited to face any other pitcher in the league. Much respect to him,” Chisholm said. “Some people’s 100 is a little lighter. I felt like his was on the lighter side.”
As Jazz rounded the bases, the entire baseball world sat with their mouths agape, wondering how Jazz got to the high cheese and via a seemingly effortless swing, deposited the ball into the upper deck right field stands. Chisholm himself though wasn’t surprised one bit. In fact, according to his ex Marlins reliever Sterling Sharp, Jazz called the shot and the reactions that followed perfectly.
After the game, Jazz was asked what he was thinking while taking his trip around the basepaths after not-so-arguably the biggest hit of his young MLB career. His answer to that inquiry was even more impressive than the moonshot itself.
“I wasn’t thinking anything crazy. It was like, “Okay, I just hit a homer off deGrom; that’s cool. But now I have to try to go do it again,” Chisholm said. “I feel like my abilities should allow me to hit a homer off anybody and my hands should allow me to get to any ball that I can swing at.”
Jazz Chisholm Jr. is here in the majors, seeing 100 mph fastballs from one of the best pitchers in the game well and doing what 595 other major league players before him couldn’t do. And afterwards, his only focus is on how can he repeat it. If you weren’t sold on Jazz yet, buy in and double down immediately.
Neidert Overcomes Early Jitters
On Thursday afternoon, Marlins prospect Nick Neidert took the mound as a starting pitcher for the first time in his career. Four and a third innings later, his start would come to an end and the events to follow would overshadow his performance. However, his work should not be discounted.
After injuries to both Sixto Sanchez and Elieser Hernandez, Neidert took the hill to start a game for the first time in his MLB career and the first time to start a game since 2019 in AAA. Understandably, emotions played their part in Neidert’s outing. After allowing a leadoff double to Brandon Nimmo, Neidert walked Pete Alonso and drew a visit from Mel Stottlemyre, Jr. During that visit, Neidert said Mel got him back within himself and back on the attack.
“It was just to get back in the zone,” Neidert said of the conversation. “Stop trying to nibble at the corners and try to make the perfect pitch.”
Neidert then retired James McCann on strikes to get back to the dugout for the first time then he threw an efficient 1-2-3 second inning. He got out of similar jams as the one he escaped in the first frame in both his third and fourth inning of work, walking two guys in each but coming back to keep the Mets off the board. He pitched into the fifth inning on 85 pitches. The only run on his line came via primary reliever Ross Detwiler allowing an inherited runner to score. Overall, Neidert’s outing can best be described as bend-but-not-break.
“I just had moments where I tried to pick at corners and ended up walking a guy. When I was in attack mode and being aggressive, it turned out really well,” Neidert said. “Overall I thought it was a solid outing. My goal every time out is to put us in a position to win. Five walks isn’t great and I put myself in some bad positions but I was able to make pitches to get out of it.”
Though his command was spotty, catcher Chad Wallach was impressed with Neidert’s ability to compete.
“He’d kind of lose it for a few batters but then he’d lock it back in for a few hitters in a row,” Wallach said. “I wouldn’t say he had his best stuff today but he really battled his butt off and pitched with some aggression and went after those guys.”
For Neidert, the biggest highlight of the day was getting the opportunity to pitch in front of live fans for the first time since a very short 2019 season in which he threw just 54 innings between two minor league affiliates and the Arizona Fall League. Neidert said he took time to soak in that experience but tried not to let it negatively affect his outing.
“Pitching in front of fans is a lot of fun. I took moments before the outing just to listen to the fans when they were announcing their lineup. Hearing fans like that, it’s incredible and the adrenaline that comes with that is great,” Neidert said. “I just tried to stay as calm as I could to go out there and make pitches and to not let it rise too high to where I was off.”
While this was definitely not a lights out performance, Neidert’s ability to rise to a big occasion, make adjustments and keep the Marlins in the game despite not having his best stuff is extremely encouraging for his maturation process. The outing should serve as a good building block for his next start which should come on Wednesday in Atlanta.
The excitement of Opening Day and the return of a 162 game season was diminished a bit on Wednesday morning when it was announced that top prospect Sixto Sanchez’s health was once again in jeopardy. The Marlins announced that, during his first action since being optioned, Sanchez was removed from a sim game due to experiencing discomfort in his throwing shoulder. Per reports, Sanchez was in the second inning of what was to be expected a five inning outing.
The original plan with Sixto was to build him up to at least 75 pitches before committing to him making the 26 man roster. It appeared as though Sanchez had just enough time to do so before rosters were due in. However, 24 hours before his last tuneup outing in the Tuesday sim game, the Marlins optioned Sanchez to the alternate training site. While this was the safest move for Sixto especially considering the Marlins do not need a fifth starter until April 9th, the fact he was sent down before even making his final appearance and the fact that for most of spring training, the Marlins were, according to Don Mattingly, planning on carrying five starters from the start of spring, was slightly auspicious. Now, that auspiciousness has turned to deep concern.
This morning, the Marlins reported that Sixto underwent an MRI and that it revealed “mild inflammation” in the upper right portion of his throwing shoulder. The team said Sixto will be given a few days’ rest before beginning rehabbing via a throwing program. The team did not provide a timetable on Sanchez’s return but called it a “slow progression”.
Judging by how Don Mattingly reacted to the news, it could have been much worse.
“I thought the news was pretty good. Obviously you don’t want it to be anything major,” Mattingly said. “[We’re] just going to take care of him and have this process work its way through. Feeling that you’ll get Sixto back or get him here at some point is a good thing.”
While it is a relief that Sixto avoided any serious structural damage, the continuous issues with his health are concerning and in some ways frustrating for both himself personally and the organization. For as careful and cautious as the Marlins have been with him, this sort of development at this point raises questions regarding the long-term reliability of the Marlins’ top prospect to stay on the field and how many innings he can provide, especially given his build and how hard he throws. Not only will his innings be limited this year, they probably will be next year as well.
Undoubtedly, as they have been previously, the team will be extremely wary with Sixto’s build back. His throwing program should go something like this: two weeks of rest, long toss, mound work, lives, minor league rehab starts. All things considered, it would be surprising to see Sixto back before June.
Jazz Thrives Under the Lights
For a lot young prospects who make the Opening Day roster for the first time, the emotions and attention overwhelm them and they stray from the values that got them to that point. For Jazz Chisholm Jr., that could not have been farther from the truth on Thursday. Rather than let the elements of his first Opening Day get the best of him, Jazz embraced them, stayed true to himself and his usual carefree nature and showed signs of things to come.
Jazz made his first statement via fashion when he showed up to work in a Lamello Ball Charlotte Hornets jersey and most noticeably, with his hair dyed blue. According to Jazz, he dyed his hair at the request of a teammate.
“When I came into spring training with the blonde, Sandy Alcantara was like “Hey, when you come on Opening Day, I want it to be blue,” Jazz said. “I was like, “I got you!””
Before the game started, Jazz who has always been a fantastic steward for fans, could be seen interacting (from a safe distance) with those in attendance for the first time at loanDepot park since 2019.
Jazz said pregame that despite the career milestone, he does not feel like he will have any butterflies when he gets on the field because the field is where he is at peace.
“The baseball field is what takes away my butterflies,” Chisholm Jr. said. “I’m just going to try to go out there and have fun and just enjoy the game the way it comes.”
Although he didn’t record a hit on the night, Jazz struck the ball hard twice. His first AB against Rays ace Tyler Glasnow, he grounded into the shift. The ball left the bat 100.5 mph and had an expected batting average of .510. His second at bat, he lined out. The ball left the bat at 95 mph. He’s carried the same bat to ball skill and consistency from the second half of spring into the regular season and as long as that persists, results shouldn’t be too far away.
Regarding how he thought Jazz handled the big moment, Mattingly said he believed Jazz welcomed being part of such a big moment and relished in it.
“I think he likes the energy and the lights. He handled it great today,” Mattingly said. “He sees the ball good, he quits early on balls. He’s going to have to keep working to keep shortening, but he has everything it takes to be a good player.”
When Derek Jeter says Jazz is a “different kind of athlete”, that comment is not limited to just his batting and fielding skills. Young players with a mindset such as this to let his love for the game prevail above all circumstances and challenges is something not found often. A guy who oozes and spreads happiness and joy to both fans and his teammates, there is very little not to like about him. Jazz has every quality necessary — both tangible and intangible — to be both a fan favorite and franchise cornerstone infielder.
Mattingly Preaches Continued Vigilance
As exciting as it is to have baseball back in a more normal capacity, the Marlins and the rest of the league were reminded on Thursday morning that, although circumstances are improving, COVID-19 is still a prevalent force and that following protocols needs to continue to be prioritized. A few hours before their Opening Day game against the New York Mets, it was revealed that multiple players on the Washington Nationals roster tested positive for COVID-19. The game was postponed and not long after, the entire series was called off. Don Mattingly said the situation sounds eerily familiar and that it can, has and will sneak up without notice and wreak extreme havoc on a team and staff.
“Very similar to what happened to us last year. No positive tests during [spring] 2.0 at all. Anything can happen and it seems to spread quickly,” Mattingly said. “For your club losing multiple guys at one time, that’s what could set you back.”
Mattingly mentioned that the club will breathe a sigh of relief when vaccinations are more widespread but until then, he and the team will remain on high alert.
“We are in a little bit of a tricky area right now, everybody leaving their camps and their bubbles, more travel,” Mattingly said. “It’s a time you still have to be vigilant.”
On the final day of the Grapefruit League season, the hottest and most highly contested battle in Marlins camp has come to an end. Ladies and gentlemen, your winner and starting second baseman, Jazz Chisholm Jr. Kim Ng broke the news on Marlins Radio during Miami’s 10-2 win over the Mets on Sunday.
According to Jazz, he received the news from Ng and Don Mattingly just before game time.
“Donnie and I have this sort of playful relationship every time he gives me some news so it was more of a “Hey, see you down in Miami!””, Chisholm Jr. said. “The emotions ran wild. It was like getting another call up but this time it’s an Opening Day job.”
Before an at bat was taken or a ground ball was fielded by either Chisholm Jr. or Isan Diaz, the two showed up to camp exhibiting polar opposite attitudes.
The 24-year-old Diaz who opted out due to COVID last season only to come back late in the season to fall victim to injury spoke as if winning the job was his main focus. All things considered, it’s easy to assume he was feeling pressured.
“I’m here to prove I’m the second baseman for the Miami Marlins,” Diaz could be heard saying shortly after reporting to camp.
Meanwhile, despite all of the talk surrounding it, Jazz was able to put the fact he was involved in a head-to-head battle completely aside and focus, more so than anything else, on improving.
“I wasn’t really thinking about the job, eventually,” Chisholm Jr. said Sunday. “I’m going out there and I’m a competitor. I’m going to go out there and try to help my team win, but at the same time I was thinking about how I can get better and try to help my team when they need me.”
By being able to block out the noise surrounding the contest at second base and stay levelheaded, Jazz was able to learn some very important mental lessons this spring, lessons that have allowed him to gain more confidence and lessons that he will take with him into the regular season.
“Trust yourself and trust the guy behind you. If your teammates trust in you, that helps even more.” Chisholm Jr. said when asked to name the biggest thing he extracted from this spring training. “The family atmosphere, the winning atmosphere, the “if I don’t do it, you can do it” atmosphere. Even in spring training, if I go out there and say [Brian Anderson] is hitting before me and he flies out, he will look at me and be like “Alright, you got it.” That’s what I took away and I hope everybody trusts me to do it every time.”
In terms of improving mechanically, Chisholm Jr. said he was sponging up valuable information from his veteran teammates such as Corey Dickerson, Jesus Aguilar and Starling Marte, coaches and even executives as often as possible.
“I talked to the veterans every day. Every day I would go to then and ask them another question,” Chisholm Jr. said. “We have a lot of guys on this team who has proven themselves in the big leagues… and you have a Hall of Famer as your owner. I picked everybody’s brain in every way I could and I tried to add it to my game.”
Of course, it wouldn’t be Jazz if he wasn’t having a ball every second he’s on the diamond, his “happy place” and the place where he “clears his head”.
“He’s going to have fun on the field no matter what,” Chisholm Jr. said when asked to describe himself to Marlins fans. “He could be having a bad game, he could be having the best game of his life and he’s still going to be out there smiling and having fun. That’s never going to change.”
When Jazz, who went 10-39 (including 9 for his last 24) this spring, steps on the field at Marlins Park on April 1st, he can take comfort in the fact that he earned the right to be on that stage. A young man that is a great mixture of purity, skill and soundness of mind, Jazz is not only primed to endear himself to fans in terms of on-field production but also to impart his infectious joy upon them, something that will is very much needed in the current global landscape.
Bring your smiles to Marlins Park this year, Fish faithful. When Jazz is on the field, you’ll be using them often.