MIAMI – Even when Miami Marlins dynamo Jazz Chisholm was batting over .300 in mid-May, he knew what that meant.
“It’s a failing game,” he said. “You're not going to succeed all the time.”
The Marlins' other standout rookie knows that too. Left-hander Trevor Rogers has six wins, but his latest start Monday was a five-inning slog against the Philadelphia Phillies that resulted in a no-decision.
“When you're young and you’ve had some success, the game continues,” Miami manager Don Mattingly said. “The season is long.”
When it ends, the Marlins are optimistic Rogers and Chisholm will still rank with MLB's best rookies, and provide a foundation for the franchise as CEO Derek Jeter tries to build a perennial contender.
With a record of 6-2, Rogers ranks among the major league leaders in victories, and also in ERA (1.75) and strikeouts (70). Chisholm is batting .275 with an .817 OPS, five homers and eight stolen bases despite missing more than two weeks because of a hamstring injury.
The two 23-year-olds have different approaches — Rogers tries to keep his emotions under wraps, while Chisholm plays with a flair to match his blue hair.
Chisholm likes to sing, dance and talk on the field and in the clubhouse, so much so that Marlins veterans have urged him to chill, but in vain.
With 125 major league at-bats under his belt, he was happy to offer advice to Marlins minor leaguers during a recent rehabilitation assignment.
“I'm like, yeah man, you’ve just got to be yourself and trust your ability,” Chisholm said. “That’s what I told them — don’t try to be someone you're not. If you’ve got to dance in the box, dance in the box. If you’ve got to bat-flip someone, go bat-flip someone. Just know that if you're going to do that stuff, you’ve got to play the game hard."
Rogers, by contrast, strives to be fiery on the inside but calm on the outside. He struggled to strike the right balance Monday, when his first seven pitches were balls and he needed 85 pitches to get through five innings.
Even so, he allowed only one earned run to the Phillies.
“It's me wanting to go out there and go at them, and the heart rate gets up too fast,” Rogers said. “Trying to slow everything down is the big thing for me. I have my best success when I have a calm aggression, I like to say."
The 6-foot-5 Rogers, a New Mexico native and Marlins first-round draft pick in 2017, took his lumps when called up to start seven games last year, but he won praise even then for his work ethic. He filled out during the offseason and fine-tuned his slider, which he mixes with a 95 mph fastball and changeup.
Only four other left-handed pitchers recorded more strikeouts in their first 16 starts — Herb Score, Fernando Valenzuela, Al Downing and Francisco Liriano.
“This has obviously been impressive,” Mattingly said. “You feel comfortable that Trevor's not going to all of a sudden relax and stop working. Some guys you feel they may take their foot off the gas. You don’t feel that with Trevor.”
Chisholm, a native of the Bahamas, was acquired two years ago in a trade that sent right-hander Zac Gallen to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Like Rogers, he struggled last year after breaking into the majors in September, but won the second base job in spring training and is expected to move eventually to shortstop.
Chisholm needs to cut down his strikeouts — he has 40 in 102 at-bats, including 10 in his past 19 at-bats through Monday.
“You're seeing them pitch him a certain way,” Mattingly said. “He’s going to have to make adjustments and understand what they're doing. This is going to be an ongoing thing. Jazz has to keep working.”
It's a failing game, but the Marlins are optimistic Chisholm and Rogers will succeed.
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