SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Tyler Rogers’ first taste of the majors left a nasty taste in opponents’ mouths. The submariner, throwing at a scraping-his-knuckles angle that hasn’t been seen in years, was baffling, holding hitters to 12 hits and three walks in 17 2/3 innings, posting a 1.02 ERA.
In his quest to establish himself as no fluke, he’s making his own teammates look just as silly.
With the eternal caveat that live batting practice under the Arizona sun means next to nothing, Rogers was dominant Thursday. Contact — even marginal — was rare, as hitters from both sides in Jaylin Davis, Austin Slater, Chris Shaw and Rob Brantly took hacks against the righty.
Brantly, competing for the backup-catcher job, was particularly confounded. The lefty hitter made faces throughout his “at-bats,” and upon merely fouling a pitch off he proclaimed, “Progress!”
“I don’t think anybody got a good look even,” the 30-year-old journeyman told KNBR from Scottsdale Stadium. “He throws like that, he’s gonna be great. He seems really talented, it’s obviously impressive.”
Earlier in camp, Gabe Kapler compared Rogers to Chad Bradford, also an underhander who had a lot of success from an angle so foreign to major league players. In today’s game, Rogers may be one of a kind, his low-80s fastball/sinker (which hit Shaw, leaving a welt on his upper back below his right shoulder) serving as his heat and a low-70s slider that Brantly could not get over.
“I almost swung and hit the cage with my bat on the first slider,” said Brantly, who vented over Rogers with Shaw. “I told [Shaw] he was a different kind of drop-down pitcher. His baseball doesn’t spin sideways or have that run. It’s more of a hard sink because it tumbles. He’s under it completely. And then he throws that frisbee almost from the same slot.”
The biggest question for the 29-year-old Rogers, somehow in his first major league camp, is whether opponents will still be confused after seeing him a few times. According to Brantly, who struggled throughout the BP, the tumble on the ball makes him so different that hitters will struggle “regardless if you’ve seen him before.”
Yet another different look for a team that very much likes different. Between Johnny Cueto’s quick pitch, Sean Hjelle’s 6-foot-11 stature and Rogers’ whiffle ball, the Giants could lead the league in uniqueness.
“Pitching is kind of the art of upsetting timing and rhythms and your natural vision,” Kapler said.
Rob Brantly is baffled by Tyler Rogers. Swung through one with a confused look. Then fouled one off. “Progress!” pic.twitter.com/7068HBdrkQ
— Mark W. Sanchez (@MarkWSanchez) February 20, 2020