It will be a battle of left-handers when the Miami Marlins host the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday night.
Miami will start rookie Trevor Rogers (1-1, 6.50 ERA). Boston will turn to journeyman Mike Kickham (1-0, 5.00 ERA).
The Marlins (24-22) are in second place in the National League East, and are seeking their first playoff berth since 2003. The Red Sox (18-31), World Series champions as recently as 2018, are in last place in the American League East.
Rogers, a New Mexico native and the 13th overall selection in 2017, pitched four scoreless innings in his major league debut on August 25, beat New York Mets star Jacob deGrom in his second start and struck out 10 batters in his third appearance.
But his inexperience showed in his fourth, and most recent, start as he allowed nine hits and eight earned runs in three-plus innings against the Philadelphia Phillies.
And Rogers wasn’t fooling many of the Phillies. Seven of the hits had an exit velocity greater than 100 mph.
After that game, Marlins pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr. discovered that Rogers had been inadvertently tipping his pitches, giving the Phillies an idea of what was coming and where.
“I felt really good those first two innings, and then something slipped,” said Rogers, who turns 23 in November. “I was scratching my head. I didn’t know what was going on.”
Assuming he can fix that tipping issue, Rogers could be tough on the Red Sox, who won the opening game of this series 2-0 on Tuesday night.
Rogers has shown excellent poise to go with his fastball and changeup. His slurve — a mix between a curve and slider — has been what has elevated his game this year.
Meanwhile, Kickham, 31, will be making just his fifth career MLB start. The St. Louis native was drafted in the sixth round by the San Francisco Giants in 2010 out of Missouri State and then proceeded to spend most of his career in the minors.
He worked 12 games, including three starts, in 2013, producing a 0-3 record and a 10.16 ERA for the Giants. The next year, also for the Giants, Kickham went 0-0 with a 22.50 ERA in two relief appearances.
Kickham — who has never faced the Marlins — had to wait until this year to get his next shot in the majors as the Red Sox have used him in three games, including one start.
He hasn’t pitched since Sept. 10, when he got the start at the Tampa Bay Rays and struck out a career-high eight batters. Kickham got a no-decision, but the Red Sox won 4-2 as he allowed three hits, one walk and two runs in four innings.
As for the respective offenses in this matchup, Miami is led by shortstop Miguel Rojas, who is batting .361.
For the Red Sox, two players to watch are left fielder Yairo Munoz and catcher Christian Vazquez.
Munoz, who is hitting .342 in 10 games, made a sensational defensive play in the eighth inning on Tuesday, robbing speedy Jazz Chisholm of what would’ve been a leadoff extra-base hit in a two-run game. Earlier in the contest, Munoz threw out Corey Dickerson, who was trying to stretch a leadoff single into a double.
Vazquez, who went 1-for-3 with an RBI on Tuesday, is batting .272 with five homers as he tries to regain his stroke through a recent slump.
“I like what he’s doing,” Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke said of Vazquez. “If he stays with what he is doing, his average will climb, and he will hit more homers.”
–Field Level Media