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Tyler Rogers has All-Star case and quiet motivation: His twin finally could see him pitch


John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports


The All-Star Game is for introductions, from player to player, from regional stars to the world. At least one player per team is there for the stage from which a casual baseball standout in one pocket of the country can become a household name throughout the U.S.

Sure, that might appeal to Tyler Rogers. But there is really one person he wants to be able to pitch in front of — a person whose house he has shared, and so the name is surely household.

The Giants reliever has not pitched in a game in front of his twin brother, Minnesota’s Taylor Rogers, since they were teammates at Chatfield High School in Colorado. They graduated in 2009, hard-throwing lefty Taylor going to Kentucky and now-submarining righty Tyler going first to Garden City Community College in Kansas before settling at Austin Peay in Tennessee. Taylor was a 2012 pick of the Twins, Tyler a 2013 pick of the Giants, and their journeys to the majors have never intersected. Taylor was a fast-riser who debuted in 2016, Tyler surviving four years at Triple-A before his call-up, and so they have not once been in opposing dugouts.

Six days before the Midsummer Classic announcements, Tyler has built a strong case that he should be emerging from the National League’s bullpen on July 13. The Littleton, Colo., native grew up 20 minutes from Coors Field, which meant about 30 family members were there for the early May Giants-Rockies series. But Taylor was in Minnesota, his own series against the Rangers to worry about.

“It would be cool to have my brother there watching live — that would be something pretty special,” Tyler Rogers said from Oracle Park this weekend. If it happens, Taylor has told him he is “getting a front-row seat.”

Taylor Rogers would see that his twin, whose right hand comes inches from scraping the dirt off the mound, has transformed into one of baseball’s best pitchers.

Among pitchers with at least 30 innings pitched, Tyler Rogers’ 1.40 ERA is fifth best in the NL. He does not have gaudy save numbers — just nine — because the Giants value him too much to constrict him to a single inning. In a game the Giants were up 2-0 Friday, Gabe Kapler turned to the 30-year-old in the eighth because the A’s had the heart of their lineup coming up, and Rogers responded by pitching around a soft, infield single from Ramon Laureano to record yet another scoreless inning, including strikeouts of Matt Chapman and Sean Murphy. Jake McGee then sailed in the ninth against a softer section of the Oakland offense.

Kapler has given the ball to Rogers 37 times this year, which is one shy of MLB leaders Tim Hill (of San Diego) and Yusmeiro Petit (of Oakland). Rogers’ low-70s slider goes viral every few days, and in concert with a low-80s fastball, he generates as soft contact as anyone. The average exit velocity against him is 84.3 mph, third best in baseball; his 66.9 percent groundball rate is second best in the NL.

“I know what he does really well, and I know how dependable he’s been for us, and I think he’s definitely deserving of consideration,” Kapler said Sunday of Rogers, adding that he feels like an All-Star to the manager.

Turning that feeling into reality becomes tricky.

All-Star reserves and pitchers will be named Sunday, chosen by a combination of player ballots and the commissioner’s office. (So NL manager Dave Roberts no longer is making these decisions.)

Twelve pitchers will be chosen for the NL, and while Colorado native Kevin Gausman is a shoo-in, the relief contenders are more jumbled. Milwaukee’s Josh Hader and his 0.57 ERA in 32 games has a stronger case than Rogers; as does Chicago’s Craig Kimbrel, with a 0.59 ERA in 31 games. St. Louis’ Alex Reyes (1.04 ERA), the Dodgers’ Kenley Jansen (1.47), Pittsburgh’s Richard Rodríguez (1.78) and current Padre and former Giant Mark Melancon (1.85) are among many who also deserve consideration.

In another year, maybe Rogers could sneak in because the middling Giants had to offer someone. Not this year.

“We’re going to have plenty of representatives in Denver this year,” Rogers said of the Giants, who should send Gausman and Buster Posey and could send Brandon Crawford and Anthony DeSclafani.

Rogers has not paid much attention to where he ranks, and he is grateful his family hasn’t brought up the possibility much — he believes Taylor, being both a good brother and a knowing pitcher, told them not to pester him about it.

Taylor knows that Tyler should stay focused on the day-to-day, even if he hasn’t seen him pitch up close in more than a decade.

 

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