SAN FRANCISCO — There was some confusion among a few of the 41,394 fans at Oracle Park Friday night.
As Logan Webb was in the process of mowing down the Dodgers in the opening game of the NLDS, what in the world was Giants relief pitcher Tyler Rogers doing sitting among the paying customers? Turns out it was Tyler’s twin brother Taylor, a relief pitcher for the Minnesota Twins.
“A lot of people mistook him for me,” Rogers said Saturday before the Giants faced the Dodgers in Game 2 of the National League Division Series. “Even during the game, they were asking him why he’s in the stands.”
The 10th set of twins to be on major league rosters at the same time, Taylor Rogers is a left-handed reliever with a low three-quarters arm slot. Tyler is a self-made submarine right-hander, so talks about mechanics give way to more practical matters.
While it was Tyler’s postseason debut, Taylor has October experience with the Twins. With 50 career saves and a 3.15 earned run average, Taylor was an American League All-Star for Minnesota this season.
“We talked about the playoffs a little bit,” Tyler Rogers said. “He told me a good tip, about the commercial breaks being longer and he said if you’re warming up between innings, take your time because you can be ready and there will still be a minute and a half left until the break is over. That was a good tidbit from him.’
Coming in with a 3-0 lead, Rogers took note of the longer break after being summoned to replace Webb with two outs and Mookie Betts aboard. He promptly retired Corey Seager on a ground ball to second to end the inning, then gave way to Camilo Doval in the ninth.
With a 7-1 record, a 2.22 earned run average and 13 saves and a league-leading 80 appearances, Rogers as the most consistent Giants reliever. Bucking the long-held notion that sidearm and submarine right-handers can’t get out left-handed hitters, opposing right-handers hit .299 against Rogers while lefties hit just ..177.
How does he do it?
“You’ve got to be able to pitch up, down, in out,” Rogers said. “I don’t think there’s any secret recipe. I know submarine side-arm guys get that label about getting opposite-handed hitters out, even before they get a chance sometimes.”
Rogers recalls being asked for his debut how he was going to get left-handers out, and his response was, “I haven’t even faced one yet.”
Teammates at Chatfield High School in Littleton, Colo., Taylor moved on to play college baseball at Kentucky while Tyler stayed nearby at Garden City Community College. It was there that Chris Finnegan suggested dropping his arm slot to sidearm.
“There really wasn’t any intent to make the majors. It was honestly just to make my college baseball team, and it kind of took off from there,” Tyler Rogers said.
Rogers discovered what many sidearm pitchers have learned. Everyone is different in terms of delivery and release point.
“There was a lot of trial and error, and it’s something I was 100 percent committed to doing,” Rogers said.
Along the way, with consistent practice and experimentation, he gradually dropped his arm until he was throwing submarine.
“It kind of found me,” Rogers said.
Rogers had what could have been a damaging blown save in Los Angeles against the Dodgers on July 20, giving up three runs on a hit and two walks without retiring a batter.
Manager Gabe Kapler inserted Rogers in another save situation the next night, and Rogers retired the side in order of a 4-2 win.
“It was big-time, the trust Gabe showed me,” Rogers said. “With us bullpen guys, he’ll do that a lot for us and it’s huge.”
The Giants are not so matchup-oriented, Kapler said, that they don’t sometimes see the big picture.
“There’s a balance between matchups and what’s happening on paper and the way our players are feeling about themselves,” Kapler said. “You become very invested in the people and you want to see them succeed.”