Josh Rogers was searching for his slider in his first two outings with Washington’s Nationals, after he was called up from Triple-A earlier this month, so he turned to Patrick Corbin, who has thrown a pretty good one over the years, and asked his fellow left-handed starter for a few tips, and maybe a grip.
The next time out, against the Miami Marlins, Rogers threw his slider for 27 of his 73 pitches (37%), generating 11 swings, five swinging strikes, and six called strikes with the pitch.
“He liked his slider and his slider was working really well,” Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez said after that outing, in which Rogers threw five scoreless, and gave up just one hit in an 8-6 loss in the nation’s capital.
So, was it Corbin’s advice that helped him out with the slider?
“Well, to be honest, I just grabbed — Corbin showed me his grip, what he uses for his slider, and I just — literally I’ve never tried it before, and I just said I’m going to take a risk and try it today, and it was pretty good, so it worked out.
“Didn’t have as great of a feel for it, like throwing it for strikes, but just like I said, took a chance with it and got some swings early and felt good about it.”
Taking on the Marlins again last night, Rogers, 27, held the Nationals’ NL East rivals to a run on five hits in 7 2⁄3 IP, throwing 103 pitches overall, 67 for strikes, in a 7-1 win on the road in Miami.
Rogers recorded 12 swinging and 15 called strikes overall, spread out over his three pitches, and he got five swinging strikes, and seven called with the slider.
Did he throw Corbin’s slider again?
“Yeah, I’m still using that grip,” Rogers said in a post game Zoom call from loanDepot park.
“I think tonight, again, I’m trying to do too much with it. It’s like the first time out I wasn’t thinking about it and I’m just like ripping it off, throwing it. And tonight I’m like trying to manipulate it again, so it’s like that internal battle of like finding a happy medium of the arm speed and the sell on the pitch, so again, I’ll continue to work on it, and just make it better, and make all my pitches better, you know, like I said, I left some pitches elevated and they hit some balls hard, but at the end of the day that’s part of my kind of game plan, is just to attack the zone.”
Rogers’ manager was happy that he got so much length from his starter, and happy with the way the left-hander threw the ball again in a fourth solid start since he got called up.
“For him to go that deep was awesome,” Martinez said. “Our bullpen needed a break, and he gave us the break they needed.”
“He goes out there and competes, and that’s awesome. His tempo is good, the guys play hard behind him, and he goes out there and competes.”
“It was fun catching him, I love the way he pitches,” catcher Keibert Ruiz said after guiding Rogers into the eighth. “He’s got great energy on the mound, and everything was working, he had a good changeup today, the fastball was there, and the more important thing, I think he was not scared to throw strikes, just attacking the hitters, we were getting good outs.”
All of that is great of course. It’s another solid start for Rogers, who has a great story, having been released by the Baltimore Orioles this summer, after just four appearances back from Tommy John surgery in 2019, before he signed on with Washington, and worked his way up to the Nationals’ rotation. But really, we just wanted to ask the southpaw about this thing he did after he struck Jazz Chisholm, Jr. out early in last night’s game...
Chisholm did the little hop/skip dance at the plate, after hitting one of his two home runs in Monday’s series opener, and Rogers, watching him, told Erick Fedde he’d do the same if he got the opportunity. But, he stressed, it was all meant to be in good fun, not anything done with any animosity.
“Yeah, yeah for sure, Jazz is a sick player,” Rogers explained. “So he’s fun to watch, he’s a showman, so it’s entertainment for people I guess.
“But I told Fedde last night, I was like, ‘That would be sick if I could do that,’ so it ended up working out, just all in good fun though, I know he probably thinks it’s funny too, so it’s no hard feelings over there.”
“Hey, what I told him is, ‘When you do stuff like that you’d better get outs,’” Rogers’ manager said, with a laugh.
“But you know what,” Martinez added, “he’s out there — like I said, he’s out there having fun, and hey, he didn’t forget what Jazz did yesterday. The funny thing is, the next inning, I’m looking over and I’m looking at their dugout, and I saw them on their iPads, and they were actually looking at it, and they were all cracking up in the other dugout.
“Hey, [Rogers is] a different cat, and he beats to a different drum, but I love it, like I said, he goes out there and competes, and he keeps everybody on their toes.”