Josh Rogers talked after his first start back in the big leagues since 2019, about the unique, rock-rock-rock-rock-rock-and-throw delivery he’s adopted this year as a way to keep hitters off-balance and develop his own rhythm and momentum on the mound.
“I mean, you watch so many guys, like it’s just the same thing,” the 27-year-old southpaw explained.
“It’s a set, it’s a turn, and it’s a throw. And hitting is just timing. So I’m just trying to do everything I can to get some momentum, get some flow out there I guess, and just go from there. So I just started this year — I changed a little bit in my delivery, I anchor my foot before so I’m not like square, and just that like swaying motion back and forth, I don’t know, I’m just kind of feeling myself a little bit I guess, and it’s been working out so I’m going to keep doing it.”
Drafted by the New York Yankees in the 11th Round in 2015, and then traded to Baltimore in the deal that sent Zack Britton to NY back in 2018, Rogers debuted for the Orioles in ‘18, but tore the UCL in his left elbow in 2019 and underwent Tommy John surgery that July, returning for just four appearances (two starts) at Triple-A in the O’s system this season before he was released and then quickly signed to a minor league deal by the Nationals.
What did the Nationals’ scouts see in the lefty that led them to take a chance on him after the Orioles decided to release him?
“Yeah, I mean, he’s a left-handed [pitcher],” manager Davey Martinez said before Rogers’ second start with the team last night in PNC Park.
“When we first got him we knew he started, we didn’t know what we wanted to do.
“We were short left-handed pitchers, but he looked like a guy that if it didn’t work out starting, that maybe we could utilize him in the bullpen.
“He’s got a funky arm angle for lefties, and he’s got a good curveball and good changeup, but he’s done well, as a starter, so we got him up here and like I said, he started the other day and did well, and we want to see him start again today.”
And Martinez’s take on that unique delivery and how it keeps hitters off-balance and adds a bit of deception?
“Yeah, it definitely adds to his deception,” the manager said. “And it’s hard because as a hitter, everything is based on timing, and you don’t know if he’s going to quick pitch, you don’t know if he’s going to hold his leg up, so it is tough, but it’s part of who he is, and it’s something that after his first game, and watching him on video before we got him, I told him, I said, ‘You don’t have to change a thing, keep doing what you’re doing. Let the hitters adjust to you. You keep pitching the way you’re pitching.’
“What I love about him is his tempo is so good, and the guys had mentioned right away it’s nice to play behind him because he gets the ball and wants to go right away, so his tempo is really, really good.”
Even with the repetitive rocking, Rogers worked quickly again last night in his second start for the Nationals in the series opener with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Rogers tossed two scoreless innings to start, but a double, a sac bunt, and sac fly led to the first run of the game for the Pirates, and after a scoreless, 17-pitch fourth, and 12-pitch, 1-2-3 fifth left Rogers at 61 total on the night, with the Nats’ 2-1 lead intact, he came back out with a 3-1 lead and gave up back-to-back singles, but stranded both runners.
With the Nationals’ bullpen worn down, and Rogers up to just 70 pitches after six, the Nats’ fill-in skipper, Tim Bogar, who was managing the team with Davey Martinez serving a one-game suspension over the hit-by-pitch on Freddie Freeman this week, sent Rogers back in the seventh, and he gave up a solo shot to right field by Anthony Alford on a 1-1 fastball that traveled 372 feet into the stands, 3-2, and a two-out single that ended his outing...
Josh Rogers’ Line: 6.2 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 HR, 82 P, 55 S, 7/7 GO/FO.
“Rogers gave us a really good outing,” Bogar said after what ended up a 4-2 walk-off loss.
“I thought he came out of the gate just throwing fastballs and challenging guys, and he did a really good job of getting after people with that, he mixed in his changeup and his slider.
“I thought his slider got better as the game went on, and used his changeup well and effectively.
“One thing you can say about Josh, is he’s not afraid to challenge people. He goes right after them. He did it all night. Got a lot of flyouts. He was aggressive, you look up in the seventh inning, sixth inning, he’s got 65-70 pitches. Very efficient in what he was doing.”
“I felt pretty good,” Rogers said when asked to assess his outing. “Just trying to throw as many strikes as possible. They were pretty aggressive, and didn’t really get to too many two-strike counts there, offspeed stuff wasn’t great, the slider was just hard to find all night, couldn’t really put anybody away, but my defense did a heck of a job all night making plays there, so kudos to them, and just kept the team in and gave us a chance tonight.”
The Pirates’ aggressive approach helped keep his pitch count down, but Rogers said the decision to lift him where Bogar did was the right choice.
“It had been the fourth time through the order there, so not really fatigued, just probably good to turn the ball over, but felt pretty good physically all night. Just again, I got to find that slider, it’s been pretty non-existent the last two times out, so if we can get that going, hopefully we’ve got room to improve.”
His plan to work on the slider?
“Hopefully talk to Pat [Corbin] a little bit,” Rogers said, “he’s got one of the best in the game, so just continue to work on it. It’s kind of been hit and miss all year, I think I’m just trying to do too much with it, just pressing a little bit, trying to make it so good, to swing and miss instead of just kind of relaxing and just executing the pitch. Some minor adjustments hopefully and can see some results here soon.”
How did his first start, with all the emotions which accompanied his return to the majors, compare with his second outing?
“I approach every game pretty much the same,” Rogers told reporters.
“Like I said I’m always smiling, having fun, but at the end of the day I’m just out there to compete, and try to give the team a chance and that’s what I tried to do tonight, and I give credit to my defense, they did a heck of a job tonight, they made some really really good plays on defense.”