Game #113 Series 4-game finale with Tanner Roark and his new stuff

Photo by Andrew Lang for TalkNats

The season is flying by it seems. In the bottom of the 3rd inning in tonight’s game after the 1st out is recorded, the regular season will be 70% complete. Don’t fret though, the Miami Marlins are back in Nats Park in just 18 days for another series which is part of the Nationals playing 21 games in 20 days without a day-off. The Nationals have a scheduled day-off coming up on Monday and the following Monday, but they don’t have another scheduled off-day after August 21st until September 11th.

Last night was spectacular for Gio Gonzalez and Ryan Zimmerman. Last year this pair were two of the most criticized Nats starters as they were under-performers in most of 2016 and turned things around in 2017 to the point that Zimmerman became an All-Star and Gio was a worthy candidate for this year’s All-Star game but became a snub due the number’s game. Zimmerman is now a potential Top-10 MVP candidate if he can get on another hot streak, and Gio is Top 5 in MLB ERA which will certainly get him Cy Young votes.

The ball tonight goes to Tanner Roark who must find some more consistency in his season. Roark was great last Friday against the Cubs even if the final stat line didn’t look “great”. In many opinions, Roark should have departed with a shutout as he was on fumes and at 97 pitches at the end of the 6th inning. He was brought out for the 7th inning and it took only 3 batters before his shutout turned into a near disaster as Javier Baez launched a 2-run home run off of him to turn a 3-0 shutout into a 3-2 game. Luckily, the new Nationals bullpen put out the fire as “The Law Firm” closed out the final 2 2/3 innings to save the win.

The Nationals are currently only 11-11 in Roark starts this year and his 4.82 ERA is more indicative to his struggles that really centered around late-May and the month of June when Roark had an 8.31 ERA and just did not look right. Roark now has a new-look arsenal where he has dialed back the velo and has returned to finessing the opponents with a true sinker, 4-seamer averaging 92 ½ mph and a reach-back touching 95 mph, and then the assortment of slider, curveball, and changeup. His mix is almost 50/50 between the fastballs and the off-speed while his repertoire can look like 7 different pitches as he will use the reach-back 4-seamer at times and now will take his 2-seam sinker and turn it into a 2-seam swingback against the lefties where he will throw it off the outside edge instead of in on the batter. It seems Roark abandoned his Colon-esque swingback on the inside edge because it wasn’t working for him. Roark got 11 swing & miss strikes in his last outing. On July 22nd, Roark had 22 swing & miss strikes and probably his best “stuff” of the season against the Diamondbacks. 

The Marlins will throw righty Dan Straily tonight, and it will be interesting to see the line-up configuration. Straily is tougher on left-handed batters and holds them to a .239 batting average. Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy are a combined 2-for-19 against Straily. Ryan Zimmerman has only faced Straily twice and homered and walked. Matt Wieters will bat left-handed against Straily and is a combined 5-for-6, and the lefty Adam Lind hits him at .364 and right-handed Howie Kendrick at .300.

Could we see Kendrick at 2nd base and Lind in LF as we already were told by Dusty Baker that Anthony Rendon will get a well-deserved rest day. This could be a very creative line-up as most of Dusty Baker’s recent line-ups have been.

The Law Firm” reportedly is open to adding additional partners, and the birthday-boy, Sammy Solis, wants to prove himself in more high-leverage spots and place his name alongside Kintzler-Madson-Doolittle.

The Nationals have won 2-of-the-first-3 games of this 4-game series so far.

Miami Marlins vs. Washington Nationals
Stadium:   Nationals Park
1st Pitch:  7:05 pm EDT
TV: MASN, FOX Sports – Florida, MLB.TV
Nats Radio: 106.7 FM The Fan; SiriusXM® Sirius 216 XM 183 (Internet 869)

Line-ups (subject to change without notice):

  1. Brian Goodwin CF
  2. Wilmer Difo SS
  3. Bryce Harper RF
  4. Ryan Zimmerman 1B
  5. Daniel Murphy 2B
  6. Adam Lind LF
  7. Matt Wieters C
  8. Adrian Sanchez 3B
  9. Tanner Roark RHP
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