SARASOTA, Fla.—Brandon Hyde joked after Friday’s game that he better not turn away from watching Josh Rogers pitch to drink water because he’ll miss 10 pitches.
Hyde watched Rogers quickly polished off the Tampa Bay Rays, pitching two perfect innings. So far in spring training, Rogers has allowed two hits in five scoreless innings over three appearances. He’s walked one and struck out one.
“My strikeouts probably aren’t what everybody wants them to be,” Rogers said. “My main focus is just attacking hitters aggressively and get the team back in the dugout to hit as quickly as possible and just to be as efficient as possible. Being a starter, it’s kind of been different coming out of the bullpen right now, that mentality. It’s been a good adjustment, so far, I think.”
Rogers, the 24-year-old left-hander who was obtained by the Orioles from the New York Yankees along with Cody Carroll and Dillon Tate for Zack Britton last July, loves to work quickly. If all pitchers worked as swiftly, there wouldn’t be any need for a pitch clock.
Orioles general manager Mike Elias was recently discussing the pitch clock with Rogers and asked him how it affected the way he pitched.
“I never even looked at it one time,” Rogers said. “I think I get every pitch off in five, six seconds. I know hitters hate it. I’ve got buddies that I face, old college teammates that I face. They say it’s the worst thing ever. Nick Solak from Tampa Bay, he makes a joke, ‘Your stuff’s no good, but you do that to throw people off.’ He gives me a hard time about it.”
Rogers has keen self-awareness when it comes to his tempo.
“I’m definitely conscious of it,” Rogers said. “It’s something I feel I use it to my advantage. I don’t think it’s something you can just get up there and do. I kind of taught myself to do it in a way, but in a controlled way and an efficient way. To use my body to take the time when I need to and when things go off the rails a little bit.
“I can just as easily give up four runs as fast as I can get three outs. Sometimes, you just have to slow it down a little bit, and with the learning curve of that, I just kind of have to draw it back at some point to make a pitch when I need to.”
When Rogers pitched at the University of Louisville, he wanted to worked at an accelerated pace.
“I think I always wanted to work fast,” Rogers said. “Me and my college pitching coach even kind of had a head butt about it a little bit because he would call the pitches and I would be like, ready to go, ready to go, and as soon as I got to pro ball, it was something I established right off the bat.
“’Hey, I’m going to get the ball off the rubber and throw it. Whatever happens, happens. Just make a quality pitch. We’ll see what happens. It’s something I’ll always try to do. When the hitters are calling time, and they see the ball coming, it doesn’t bother me. They can do that all day. As soon as they get in, I’m going to throw the pitch anyway.”
If Rogers, who made three starts late last season is in the rotation, he’ll give the Orioles a left-handed alternative.
“I’m literally [trying to] dominate the innings I’m given right now and just be effective,” Rogers said. “If they want to use me in that role, I’ll be ecstatic. What I’ve done my whole career is be a starter. I’ve logged innings. To be a left-handed starter that logs innings, I feel like it’s pretty valuable on a team. Obviously, I haven’t done that on the big league level, yet. I’m excited for the opportunity.”
When Rogers came up in August, he got to know many of the players who are now in camp, and was quickly adopted by Andrew Cashner and Alex Cobb, and was glad he had that brief taste of big league life.
“Guys like Cash and Cobb, I can go golf with them now,” Rogers said. “I can hang out with them outside of here because I know them. It’s not like I just met them a couple of weeks ago and kind of had my foot in the door and didn’t know what to say. I’m pretty comfortable. I get to be myself. I think Hyde and the staff has done a really good job of kind of expressing that, just kind of be who you are. I’m not the quietest guy. I know I’m a rookie. It’s still a lot of fun. I love to give those guys crap.”