SAN FRANCISCO -- Only jury duty kept pitching coach Curt Young from putting together a summit of submariners this month. Young was with the A's when Chad Bradford dominated hitters with his unique approach, and he hoped to put Bradford in a room with Giants rookie Tyler Rogers.
"He got called in for jury duty," a smiling Young said of Bradford. "But we'll make it happen at some point."
With the way Rogers is pitching, there's no real rush. Nobody is taking greater advantage of a September opportunity than Rogers, a submarining right-hander who has a 1.54 ERA in 12 appearances and has allowed just seven hits. Rogers provides a look that's not seen anywhere else in the Majors, and big leaguers haven't adjusted yet. With every bewildered stare back at the mound, Rogers gets closer to putting himself in position for a bullpen job in 2020.
"The results kind of speak for themselves so far. I've been able to execute pitches," Rogers said. "Between the two levels, that hasn't changed. If you execute the pitch, more times than not you're going to be successful. And if you don't, you know, they're going to hurt you."
There's been very little pain thus far, particularly on a slider that's become a put-away pitch for Rogers and has fascinated teammates and fans. Because of where Rogers releases the ball -- he's dead last in the Majors with a release point of just 1.05 feet above the dirt -- the slider often appears to be rising the entire way to the catcher's glove. It floats into the strike zone and elicits ugly swings.
"Absolutely, it almost rises even for the catcher," said Aramis Garcia, who caught Rogers in Triple-A. "Depending on how he throws it, if it's high or in the middle of the zone, it gets really good rise. Guys in the batter's box say it all the time. They hate seeing that slider after the fastball."
Rogers' slider isn't a high-spin pitch. At 2,279 RPM, it has one of the lowest spin rates on the Giants' staff, but the results thus far have been impressive. Rogers has thrown the pitch 36 times and allowed just one hit, a single. Seven of his eight strikeouts have come on the slider and it's being hit an average of just 79 mph when put into play.
The funny thing about the pitch for Rogers is that it didn't even use to be in his repertoire. As a freshman at Austin Peay, he threw exclusively fastballs.
"I just couldn't figure (the slider) out and it still takes a lot of tinkering in practice," Rogers said. "That pitch has definitely evolved a lot over the years. Now I just kind of let it do what it wants that day. It's not the same day to day. Some days I can really cut it loose and give it what I've got and other days I've got to be a little more about finesse with it."
Nobody has helped their cause more this month than Tyler Rogers. Has a 70 percent ground ball rate and keeps getting whiffs on his slider: pic.twitter.com/OKUT5LbKWk— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) September 15, 2019
The pitch, which Rogers throws off of his low 80s sinker, helped him put up eye-popping numbers during a curiously long stay in Triple-A. Rogers had a 3.27 ERA in 179 career appearances in a tough league for pitchers, but the Giants didn't take a look until this September, the end of his fourth season in Sacramento.
Teammates who were there the day Rogers got called up say the eruption from the clubhouse was as loud as they could remember. They were curious to see how Rogers' delivery would work against big league hitters, and so far the results have helped Rogers grab a more high-leverage role in a shifting bullpen. That doesn't surprise Garcia, who actually might have learned more about Rogers' slider when an opposing hitter had success against it. Garcia often played first base in Sacramento and said even a hitter who reached would come away grumbling.
"There were a lot of times where a guy would get to first base and all he would be talking about is how much he hates facing him," Garcia said.
Big league hitters apparently feel the same way.