Gabe Kapler eager to go back to Tyler Rogers after rough night

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Rogers views struggles in walk-off loss to Dodgers as 'outlier' originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

Tyler Rogers pitched in 15 games in April, and the pace didn't slow once the calendar turned. He pitched 10 more times in the first 19 days of May, getting to an MLB-high 25 appearances through 43 games for the Giants, who rode Rogers in the late innings as they got off to a hot start. 

That usage was unsustainable, but Rogers never complained. It was the opposite, in fact. He insisted that his arm was bouncing back and that he felt better and sharper the more he pitched, and with a 0.70 ERA through that point, it was impossible to argue. 

The Giants have slowed Rogers' pace, in part for his well-being and in part because the schedule has naturally allowed it to happen. Perhaps that has led to some rust, and it showed at the worst possible time. 

Rogers opened the bottom of the ninth inning with a walk, another walk, and a walk-off homer. Will Smith took him deep to left to give the Dodgers an 8-6 comeback win, handing the Giants one of their worst losses of the season. 

On the verge of becoming the first MLB team to 60 wins and extending their NL West lead to three games, the Giants watched as Rogers lost his feel for the strike zone. He threw 11 pitches and just three of them were strikes, including a hanging slider that Smith crushed to end the game. 

Rogers entered the night with a 1.43 ERA and 10 saves. He has been Gabe Kapler's most reliable reliever, but on this night, he could do nothing but view his performance as "an outlier."

"Because I have to," Rogers said. "Because I'm a baseball player. We're playing tomorrow."

The Giants have done a remarkable job of bouncing back from tough nights this season, and they pushed that message as they popped in front of a laptop for Zoom press conferences. Alex Wood, who gave up three runs in five-plus innings, insisted Rogers would be fine and said the clubhouse has "all the faith in the world" in him. Kapler went further.

"Let me just say this now that I have the opportunity: I can't wait to get Tyler Rogers back out on the mound," Kapler said. "He's been a warrior for us all year long, he's been an elite reliever in this league and has thrown some of our biggest innings. Everybody has a hiccup. Obviously, this is a disappointing loss, but I could not have more faith in Tyler Rogers and I can't wait to get him back out there so we can turn the page and put this one behind him."

Kapler has never had to worry about Rogers' effectiveness this season, but as he watched him warm up before the bottom of the ninth, he did feel some concern. After the throws, Kapler leaned over to pitching coach Andrew Bailey and said it wasn't a good warm-up session.

"He was just having trouble finding the strike zone," Kapler said. 

Rogers had been handed a one-run lead on the strength of four Giants homers, but Chris Taylor helped the Dodgers claw back with two of his own, and Rogers walked him on four pitches to open the ninth. He went 2-0 on Matt Beaty before Bailey came out and then walked him after the meeting. 

That brought up Smith, hitting in Max Muncy's spot because both Muncy and Justin Turner had been drilled by Wood and suffered contusions. Rogers threw a slider that drifted right over the heart of the plate and Smith crushed it to left. 

"What is really strange and very uncharacteristic is that he wasn't able to find the zone," Kapler said. "I don't think it was a matter of him being too fine. I just think it was a matter of him not having a feel today and it came at a pretty tough time for us."

RELATED: What we learned in Giants' gut-punch loss to Dodgers

Because of recent game flow and the All-Star break, Rogers had pitched just once over the previous eight days. He said he wasn't rusty and felt he had both pitches dialed in, but his manager might change things up anyway. Kapler noted that Rogers is one of his pitchers who likes to get his work in.

"It's definitely something to consider," he said. "There are some relievers who like to pitch a lot and we have to kind of hold them back from overdoing it, but he may be one of those guys, and I think he is, that likes to touch the mound regularly."

Rogers should get another opportunity soon. Kapler said he was eager to get Rogers back out there, and the right-hander can't wait. 

"I'm going to have a Bud Light and rinse this one off," Rogers said. "And I'll be ready to go tomorrow."

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