Tanner Roark is coming off of back-to-back duds and to put it in perspective how uncharacteristic those two starts were, lets analyze how they looked combined: 9 2/3 innings for 11 earned runs, 7 walks, and an eye-popping 224 pitches to get just 29 outs. Roark has been the least efficient starting pitcher in baseball and his ERA this morning stands at 4.73. Last year, Roark never had two consecutive starts in a row that yielded 4 or more runs which is why we are concerned. Was it the 125 pitch start on May 2nd that caused this or was it because he began his throwing program earlier this year to compete in the WBC? The answer is we don’t know.
What we do know is that Tanner Roark must get back on track tonight against the Seattle Mariners. Roark has made no excuses, and why should he. This is the same Tanner Roark who finished last season with a 6th best finish at a 2.83 ERA in the NL and was 10th in the Cy Young voting!
Roark has compiled a 4-year history of being one of the best and most under-rated pitchers in baseball. But, this is a “what have you done for me lately” sport. Roark built his success on pinpoint accuracy, movement on his pitches, and a deadly two-seam swingback fastball. Lately, the only thing swinging has been the opponent’s bats.
“He may have come into a little dead-arm scenario,” Mike Rizzo said on 106.7 radio this morning about Tanner Roark.
On point in current events on Talk Nats, Mike Rizzo addressed the over-use and pitch efficiency issues with the Nationals’ starting pitchers.
“We read a lot about how [Nationals starting pitchers] have thrown a lot of pitches—four of the top 5 guys,” Rizzo said.
The good news is there is an acknowledgement that Rizzo read about the issue, and we hope he read it on Talk Nats. Sometimes we feel that we serve a purpose in disseminating information. Rizzo specifically discussed that they inserted Joe Ross yesterday to give all of the other starters one additional rest day.
The Mariners will pitch righty Sam Gaviglio who will be making his second career start after he was called up from Triple-A Tacoma earlier in May. Like Bergman yesterday, Gaviglio is coming off of a shutout which he had in five-innings against the White Sox.
The Nationals have never faced Gaviglio before; however, several Mariners players have faced Roark before. Jean Segura is 5-11 in his career and Carlos Ruiz is 2-11 and both Kyle Seager and Robinson Cano are 1-3. Roark has faced Nelson Cruz, Mike Zunino and Jarrod Dyson before and they were all hitless.
To all of those worried about the closer situation, here’s a message from Mike Rizzo:
“There’s a lot of playoff teams that started the season last year — I think six teams had different closers at the end of the season and into the playoffs than they had at the beginning of the season.”
The Nationals would be one of those six teams that had a different closer at the end of last season. By the way, the Nationals still have the least used bullpen in baseball. Last night, only Matt Grace was needed to close out a Low Lev 9th inning with a 9-run lead following Joe Ross’ gem.
The Nationals have won two games in a row, and it is up to Tanner Roark to extend that into a 3-game winning streak.
Seattle Mariners at Washington Nationals
Stadium: Nationals Park, South Capitol Street SE, Washington, DC
1st Pitch: 7:05 pm EDT
TV: MASN, ROOT NW, MLB.TV
Nats Radio: 106.7 FM The Fan; SiriusXM® XM 187 Sirius 145 (Internet 869)
Line-ups (subject to change without notice):
- Trea Turner SS
- Jayson Werth LF
- Bryce Harper RF
- Ryan Zimmerman 1B
- Daniel Murphy 2B
- Anthony Rendon 3B
- Matt Wieters C
- Michael Taylor CF
- Tanner Roark RHP