Robert Dugger is a key piece to a Marlins rotation in flux.
Robert Dugger had his major league debut this season with the Miami Marlins, and started seven games for the club from August through the close of the campaign. Although Dugger posted an 0-4 record, he showed enough to the Marlins that they’ll be forced to take a longer, continued look at the righty through Spring Training. Speaking about his first ever major league appearance, Dugger noted:
"Very surreal. Kind of a blur. Such a quick turnaround too since it being a double header and I was the 26th man. So I had to return to triple a the next day, it was hard to process everything. But it was an unreal experience. One I’ll never forget for the rest of my life."
Dugger gave up six runs in only five innings in his major league debut, but in his second game, pitched seven three-hit innings, striking out seven and allowing only two unearned runs. He was suitably reflective:
"It was good to bounce back positively from the last one. And ya know, it happens, it’s baseball! Just gotta keep join to give your team the best chance to win."
Dugger, who joined the Miami Marlins as part of the return for Dee Gordon to the Seattle Mariners following the 2017 season, is a 6’2”, 180 lb. righty from Tuscon, Arizona. Growing up, he looked to Roy Oswalt and Tim Lincecum heavily when developing his own pitching archetype:
"Similar body types, arm actions, and stuff."
Despite that, Dugger doesn’t really fashion his delivery or outlook after another pitcher, intending instead to “find his own way” as a major league starter.
The use of the word, “stuff” in the context in which Dugger meant, doesn’t mean stuff literally, exactly. When applied to pitching, “stuff” means the type of action a pitcher can put on the ball, the sort of “movement” the ball can make from the pitcher’s hand to the catcher’s glove. Can it break right? Break left? Drop off the table? Look like another pitch entirely? Good “stuff” is the, um, stuff, that makes the pitcher stand out from other pitching prospects. Dugger’s stuff, btw, consists of a four-pitch mix. His fastball and slider each score a 55, along with a 50 changeup and a 45-rated curveball, according to baseball savant at MLB.COM.
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Dugger will have a better-than-even chance to hook on with the Miami Marlins after 2020 Spring Training. He’s also got a message for young people who are trying to someday reach the major leagues, as he did:
"Dedicate yourself to the game. Work hard! Hard work never goes unnoticed! Play the game the right way and respect it. But also HAVE FUN."
We’re going to dedicate ourselves to seeing Dugger have continued success on the large stage afforded by the major leagues. After 34 1/3 innings pitched in the big leagues, Dugger still has rookie status entering the 2020 season, and is currently the 23rd-ranked prospect on the Miami Marlins.