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Who emerged as possible Giants opener, closer? ‘The same dude’


Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports


Perhaps the buzziest of the buzz words of Giants camp, before it let out, was being “flexible.”

Well, a pitcher who entered Gabe Kapler’s radar for both the first and ninth innings seems to have achieved the term.

The Giants manager, on with “Tolbert, Krueger & Brooks” on Monday, was asked if any pitcher had intrigued him as either an opener or closer candidate before the baseball world was shut down by the coronavirus. Kapler laughed because “it’s the same dude.”

“I think Rogers would be a really interesting guy to open up a game and go through five, six, seven batters, left and right,” Kapler said about Tyler Rogers, the 29-year-old submariner. “And I also think he’d be an interesting candidate to shut down a couple right-handed and left-handed hitters in a row.

“Whenever you’re thinking about a guy who can close out a baseball game or a guy who can open a baseball game, you don’t want him to be a specialist, right? You don’t want a guy who’s going to come in and just wipe out one hand. You want him to be able to go through several batters and understand that if a couple guys get on base, it might be six batters that you have to face.”

Rogers was brilliant upon finally getting his call-up late last August, allowing just two earned in 17 2/3 innings (1.02) while baffling so many hitters. The Giants wanted to ensure he could get out lefties, too, with the three-batter minimum set to be introduced this season, and Rogers was not discriminating in shutting down just about every spring hitter he faced.

In one Feb. 20 live batting session, Rogers so confounded hitters that catcher Rob Brantly, upon fouling a pitch off, yelled out, “Progress!”

“What Rogers demonstrated in camp is that he’s going to be able to get righties and lefties out,” Kapler said on KNBR. “Lefties specifically, he worked on a slider that he throws up and under the hands of a left-handed hitter. And it’s kind of unusual, from that really low arm angle, that submarine style for a guy not to rely on his sinker and slider, to be down in the zone. But he can fire it up at that angle. And his sinker, his two-seamer, acts like a curveball. It’s really another unique pitch to get left-handed hitters out.”

It’s unclear when and, more urgently, if the baseball season will start up this season. But Rogers, who allowed just a hit and a walk in 4 1/3 spring innings, in which he struck out seven, would be a big part of a very much in-flux bullpen, with only Tony Watson (presuming health) a lock for the late innings.

“He’d be an exciting candidate to take down both of those roles,” Kapler said of Rogers. “I’m not saying he would be that guy, but I think he’d be an exciting candidate.”

 

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