Miami Marlins lefty Trevor Rogers already has beaten two-time Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom and red-hot Corbin Burnes this season.
On Sunday, Rogers (3-1, 1.29 ERA) will face the host Washington Nationals and their ace, right-hander Max Scherzer (1-2, 3.00).
Scherzer, a three-time Cy Young winner and a seven-time All-Star, is 13-5 with a 3.11 ERA in 24 career starts against the Marlins.
But in his most recent game, on Tuesday against the Toronto Blue Jays, Scherzer lasted just five innings, allowing eight hits, two walks and seven runs (five earned). The big blow allowed by Scherzer was Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s grand slam in the third inning of the Nationals’ 9-5 loss.
“I didn’t pitch well — that’s obvious,” Scherzer said. “I didn’t execute.”
Meanwhile, Rogers hasn’t allowed a run in his past two games, totaling 13 innings. He has 15 strikeouts and just one walk over that span, and both of those games were caught by third-string catcher Sandy Leon.
Rogers’ swinging-strike rate is the fourth-best in the majors, trailing only deGrom, Burnes and Cleveland’s Shane Bieber.
In addition to missing bats, Rogers avoids sharp contact, relinquishing just one homer this season. His strikeout rate per nine innings is 12.2 over five starts this year and 12.4 over 12 career starts.
The only concern for Rogers is his walk rate — 3.2 this year and 3.7 in his brief career.
“Trying to get strike one early,” Rogers said after beating the Baltimore Orioles 3-0 on April 21. “That led to them being overly aggressive. I attacked them with quality pitches and got some early contact.”
Still, Rogers has been a bright spot on a team that is struggling. Case in point: Since Rogers’ most recent start — an 8-0 win over the Milwaukee Brewers on Monday — the Marlins are just 1-3.
Rogers has never faced the Nationals.
Offensively, the hottest player on either team probably is Marlins first baseman Jesus Aguilar, who slugged his sixth homer in his past eight games on Saturday in a 7-2 loss to Washington. He has 12 RBIs in that span, but the Marlins won just three of those contests.
Overall, though, the Marlins are slumping at the plate in this three-game series, scoring just three runs in two games — both losses.
“Our offense is not in a groove,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “We are not sustaining anything. We’re capable, but we just have to be more consistent.”
Aguilar’s counterpart — Nationals first baseman Josh Bell — had a four-RBI game on Saturday. Bell has driven in six runs in his past three games.
Nationals manager Dave Martinez said he has been encouraged with his team’s recent play, especially after Washington started the season with several players out due to COVID-19 protocols. In addition, superstar outfielder Juan Soto is still out with a shoulder injury, although his return is imminent.
“We’re starting to see these guys really come around,” Martinez said after Saturday’s victory. “They are now doing the things we know they are capable of doing.”
–Field Level Media
WALTER VILLA cel: 786 236-1564