5. Roark Returns: In 31 starts as part of the Washington Nationals' rotation in 2015, 28-year-old right-hander Tanner Roark went (15-10) with a 2.85 ERA, a 3.47 FIP, 39 walks (1.77 BB/9) and 138 Ks (6.25 K/9) in 198 ⅔ innings over which he held opposing hitters to a combined .236/.281/.351 line, finishing the season at +3.1 fWAR.
When the Nationals signed Max Scherzer this winter, however, Roark was moved to the bullpen.
In an MLB Network Radio interview this Spring, Nats' GM Mike Rizzo talked about Roark's reaction to the news that he would be working in relief this season.
"It was really one of the most selfless things that I've ever seen happen in baseball," Rizzo said.
"This is a guy that could have really made things a little dicey for us with our decision to put him in the bullpen, but he made things smooth and comfortable for everybody and I think he's going to excel in the bullpen. We see his long-term position as a starting pitcher for us, but I think he's going to go to the bullpen and have a lot of success."
As a reliever this season, Roark has put up a 3.74 ERA, a 3.87 FIP and a .256/.306/.433 line against in 45 ⅔ IP, and as a starter, in six outings, the righty has put up a 5.61 ERA, a 5.40 FIP and a .288/.324/.478 line against in 33 ⅔ IP.
After pitching out of the pen exclusively since a June 28th start in Philadelphia, Roark was sent down to the minors ten days ago to get stretched out in case he was needed as a starter.
Roark made two starts, one each for Potomac and Harrisburg, giving up five hits and one run in six innings before he was called back up today.
Nats' skipper Matt Williams talked to reporters, including Washington Post writer James Wagner, this week, about what could reasonably expect to get out of Roark tonight, who's good to around 85 pitches.
"He can get us through five innings, six potentially if he’s pinpoint on his control and getting early out. We wouldn’t necessarily push him to 110 [Friday]. He’s not ready for that."
The Tan Man's back! Tanner Roark & the #Nats are just about ready to roll! #Gametime is next! pic.twitter.com/oQ8DPTSPV5— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) September 4, 2015
Roark's return to the majors and the rotation tonight began with a scoreless, 15-pitch first in which he worked around a one-out single to left by Cameron Maybin (picking him off first) and a two-out double by Freddie Freeman, who was stranded at second.
Given a 1-0 lead to work with, Roark retired the Braves in order in an 11-pitch second that left him at 26 pitches.
A one-out walk to Andrelton Simmons, two-out single by Freddie Freeman and a swinging bunt by A.J. Pierzynski tied things up at 1-1 after two and a half. Roark's 18-pitch third pushed him up to 44 pitches.
A 13-pitch, 1-2-3 fourth left Roark at 57 pitches.
• Nick Markakis walked with one down and went to third on a double to left-center by Cameron Maybin. Roark gave Freddie Freeman the intentionals to load'em up with one out. That was it for Roark...
• Tanner Roark's Line: 4.1 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, 0 HR, 69 P, 41 S, 3/3 GO/FO.
The line on Tanner Roark in his return: 4.1 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 3 BB (1 intentional), 1K -- 69 pitches, 41 strikes. pic.twitter.com/1Fq4j1ZJd5— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) September 5, 2015
4. Teheran Again: Atlanta Braves' righty Julio Teheran, 24, got knocked around in two starts against the Washington Nationals earlier this season, giving up 10 hits and seven runs, three earned in 5 ⅔ innings in a 13-12 loss in Turner Field on April 28th and 10 hits, three walks and six earned runs in five innings when he pitched in the nation's capital in an 8-6 loss on May 9th.
Teheran didn't receive a decision in either of the outings, so he remained (3-2) in 10 career starts against the Braves' divisional rivals, with a 3.86 ERA, 20 walks (2.97 BB/9) and 56 Ks (8.31 K/9) in in 60 ⅔ IP, over which Nats' hitters put up a .303/.361/.471 line against the five-year veteran.
In 20 starts since they last faced him, Teheran was (6-6) with a 4.58 ERA and a .251/.317/.403 line against in 123 ⅔ innings pitched before tonight.
On the year, the right-hander was (9-7) before facing the Nationals again, with a 4.62 ERA, 4.58 FIP, 57 walks (3.17 BB/9) and 139 Ks (7.74 K/9) in 161 ⅔ IP, over which opposing hitters had a .257/.333/.432 line against him.
It's almost time for the first pitch in DC. Julio Teheran will take the mound for the #Braves. pic.twitter.com/kJjZ4rTCS7— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) September 4, 2015
Teheran was coming of a 4 ⅓ inning start against the New York Yankees in which he gave up nine hits, three walks and eight runs, and took a loss in a 20-6 game that snapped a five-start unbeaten streak.
His third start of the season against Washington began with two quick outs, but Bryce Harper worked the count full in the next at bat and crushed a 95 mph fastball, sending a screamer into the second deck in right for a 1-0 lead. No.32 of 2015 for Harper. 18-pitch first for Teheran.
Bryce Harper's HR was the longest of his career pic.twitter.com/4Kb2rA4za1— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 4, 2015
Teheran worked around a leadoff walk to Clint Robinson in a scoreless, 17-pitch second that left him at 35 pitches total after two.
Jose Lobaton walked to start the home-half of the third, moved up on a sac bunt and took third on a one-out single by Jayson Werth.
One out later, the Braves walked Bryce Harper to get to Ryan Zimmerman, who sent a fly to right to end a scoreless 26-pitch third. 61 total.
Clint Robinson sent a grounder through Braves' third baseman Adonis Garcia's wickets in the first at bat of the Nats' fourth and Yunel Escobar walked to put two on in front of Ian Desmond, who sent a fly to right that a sprinting Nick Markakis tracked down. Robinson took third on the fly ball, but Teheran got a grounder back to the mound on a 3-2 pitch to Jose Lobaton and started an inning-ending 1-6-3 DP. 21-pitch frame. 82 total.
Teheran retired the Nationals in order in a 16-pitch, 1-2-3 fifth that left him at 98 pitches overall.
Ryan Zimmerman and Clint Robinson hit back-to-back, one-out singles off Teheran in the Nationals' sixth, and Yunel Escobar followed with a base-loading grounder to right. Ian Desmond fell behind 0-2 quickly and K'd chasing a 1-2 slider for out no.2. Jose Lobaton came up with two out and popped out to left to end a 16-pitch frame. 114 total for Teheran.
• Julio Teheran's Line: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 4 Ks, 114 P, 69 S, 7/2 GO/FO.
3. Random Game Notes: Ryan Zimmerman's 23 RBIs in the last 11-games are the most over an 11-game stretch in Nationals/Expos franchise history.
• In those last 11 games, Zimmerman is 17 for 42 (.405 AVG) with five doubles, seven home runs, two walks and 11 runs.
• Bryce Harper started tonight's game ranked 1st in the NL in AVG (.331), OBP (.464), SLG (.627), runs scored (96) and Wins Above Replacement (7.7 fWAR).
• In today's Ian Desmond-themed "Fun with Arbitrary End Points" segment, in his last 42 games, going back to July 20th, Nats' shortstop Ian Desmond has put up a .299/.365/.545 line with six doubles, a triple, 10 home runs, 16 walks and seven stolen bases.
• In 14 games as the Nationals' leadoff hitter, Jayson Werth has put up a .328/.400/.621 line with six doubles, a triple and three home runs.
• Anthony Rendon and Wilson Ramos entered tonight's matchup with 12 and 11-game hit streaks, respectively.
• In a Braves-themed segment of "Fun with Arbitrary End Points", catcher A.J. Pierzynski is 55 for 155 (.329 AVG) since July 1st, putting up the second-best AVG among MLB catcher over that stretch.
• Braves' shortstop Andrelton Simmons turned 26 today.
• The Nationals have won 10 of 13 games with the Braves so far this season after last night's win.
2. Turning Point(s): Bryce Harper saw 20 pitches without taking a swing last night, but he decided to take a shot at a 3-2 heater from Julio Teheran tonight and he got all of it, sending a solo home run to the second deck in right, 446 ft from home for his 32nd home run of the season and a 1-0 lead early in the second game of four with Atlanta in D.C.
This is what happens when @Bharper3407 swings: http://t.co/vx0TZr9aK3 #CRUSHED pic.twitter.com/PY985win5O— MLB (@MLB) September 4, 2015
• Tanner Roark issued a one-out walk to Andrelton Simmons in the Braves' third, and Freddie Freeman's second hit of the night sent Atlanta's shortstop around to third before he scored on a swinging bunt by A.J. Pierzynski to tie it up at 1-1 after two and a half.
1. The Wrap-Up: Matt Thornton came on with the bases loaded and one out in the fifth to face A.J. Pierzynski, after an intentional walk to Freddie Freeman loaded them up and ended Tanner Roark's night. Pierzynski popped to short center for out no.2. Adonis Garcia stepped in next and grounded out to second. Still 1-1.
Felipe Rivero came on for the Nationals in the top of the sixth, and retired the Braves in order in a five-pitch, five-strike frame.
Rivero came back out for the seventh and retired the side in order again in a 14-pitch, 1-2-3 seventh.
Former Nationals' starter Edwin Jackson came on in the bottom of the seventh inning threw a quick, 1-2-3 frame with some help from a get-out-of-here diving stab by Adonis Garcia on a line drive off Jayson Werth's bat.
Drew Storen gave up a leadoff double to left by Freddie Freeman (3 for 3, 2 2B) on a 1-1 fastball. A.J. Pierzynski hit a grounder to short for an unproductive out. Pinch hitter Nick Swisher stepped in next and hit an RBI single to right to bring Freeman in and make it 2-1 Braves after seven and a half.
Braves' right-hander Arodys Vizcaino gave up a leadoff walk to Bryce Harper in the Nationals' half of the eighth, but Ryan Zimmerman K'd swinging and Clint Robinson lined out to first allowing Freddie Freeman to turn an unassisted DP.
Jonathan Papelbon gave up back-to-back singles by Michael Bourn and Pedro Ciriaco in the top of the ninth, but both runners were stranded.
Vizcaino came back out for the bottom of the ninth and gave up a leadoff double to Yunel Escobar. Trea Turner came on to run at second with Ian Desmond up at the plate. Desmond got a bunt down on a 1-2 slider that moved Turner to third. Wilson Ramos K'd chasing a fastball up out of the zone. Matt den Dekker? Line drive single to center. 2-2.
WATCH: @UpperDekker. SO CLUTCH! http://t.co/Rt1SgfsXIv— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) September 5, 2015
Jayson Werth singled to left to move den Dekker to second. Anthony Rendon stepped in with two on and two out.
Peter Moylan came on to face Anthony Rendon... who... grounded into a force at second. 2-2 after nine.
Papelbon came back for the tenth and retired the Braves in order.
Matt Marksberry came on for the Braves in the bottom of the tenth inning and gave up a leadoff single to left by Bryce Harper.
Brandon Cunniff came on to face Ryan Zimmerman, righty vs righty. Zimmerman worked the count full and singled to center to send Harper around to third. First and third, no outs. Pinch hitter Michael Taylor stepped in next... and went yard! Three-run home run! Walk-off Taylor!! Nationals win! Nationals win!! 5-2 final.
"Thank the Lord, I got something to hit!" - Michael Taylor to Dan Kolko
Nationals now 68-65