Why Gabe Kapler envisions big role for Giants reliever Tyler Rogers

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Whenever the first games of the Gabe Kapler Era are played, Giants fans might have to get used to a couple of new ideas. 

Kapler and his staff intend to use openers, which the Giants did just once under Bruce Bochy, and they also have made it clear that they don't necessarily believe in naming a closer. They may rotate several pitchers into the ninth inning, and Kapler started laughing Tuesday when asked during an interview on KNBR if there were young pitchers who stood out to him in camp as potential openers or closers.

"I'm laughing because I think it's the same dude," Kapler said. "I think Rogers would be a really interesting guy to open up a game and go through five, six, seven batters left and right, and I also think he would be an interesting candidate to shut down a couple of right-handed and left-handed hitters in a row. I think whenever you're thinking about a guy who can close down a baseball game and a guy who can open a baseball game, you don't want them to be specialists, right?"

Tyler Rogers was one of the standouts of camp, building on a strong call-up last September. The submarining right-hander allowed just two earned runs in 17 appearances last year and was cruel to hitters on both sides. Righties hit .209 against him and lefties were just 3-for-22 (.136) with no extra-base hits. 

Rogers, 29, came to camp as part of a wide-open competition in the bullpen jobs. Pretty early on it was apparent that he was one of the better arms in the group, and the staff talked often of the kind of impact he could make late in games. If the season had started on time, Rogers and Trevor Gott stood as two obvious ninth-inning options with veteran Tony Watson dealing with a shoulder issue. 

"What Rogers demonstrated in camp is that he's going to be able to get righties and lefties out," Kapler told KNBR. "And lefties, specifically, he worked on a slider that he throws up and under the hands of a left-handed hitter. It's kind of unusual from that really low arm angle, that submarine style, for a guy not to rely on his sinker and slider to be down in the zone, but he can fire it up at that angle. His sinker, his two-seamer, acts like a curveball, so it's another unique pitch to get left-handers out."

Kapler mentioned that Rogers had "one of the more impressive live BP sessions in camp," referencing a day early in camp where hitters were unable to even put the ball in play. Veteran catcher Rob Brantly was among those who faced Rogers that day and he yelled "progress!" to teammates when he popped one pitch up. 

[RELATED: Looking back at day Giants ended camp]

That was a moment when it was clear that Rogers had carried his 2019 momentum over. Whenever baseball resumes, the new staff plans to keep throwing him out there in bigger and bigger spots. 

"He'd be an exciting candidate to take down both of those roles," Kapler said. "I'm not saying he would be that guy, but I think he would be an exciting candidate."

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