“We're going to go as planned with Tanner,” Dusty Baker told reporters on Tuesday, announcing it was going to be Tanner Roark starting for the Washington Nationals instead of Stephen Strasburg in Game 4 of the NLDS with the Chicago Cubs.
It was somewhat surprising, after speculation that Strasburg could potentially start with regular rest because of the postponement of the fourth game of the series.
Baker was asked if Strasburg could potentially be available out of the bullpen.
“I don't know, man,” he said. “I ain't even thinking about that to tell you the truth. I'm thinking Tanner's going to do his thing.”
“We've got full confidence in Tanner,” Baker said.
In an elimination game, it will of course be all hands on deck, but Baker said he hoped it didn’t come that.
“Yeah, it is, but I mean, like I said, we have full confidence in Tanner.”
At three points in his interview with reporters in Wrigley Field, Baker stated the fact that they had full confidence in Roark, though the Nationals’ skipper was saying the same before yesterday’s scheduled outing was scrapped.
“We feel very comfortable with Tanner on the mound,” Baker told reporters before the third game of the Division Series on Monday afternoon, “because you know he's going to fight tooth and nails and do everything he can to win the ballgame for you.”
Roark said on Monday, before all the “will Strasburg start or won’t he” drama began, that he was just looking forward to taking the mound in Chicago and channeling his energy and adrenaline into a positive outing.
“You've just got to channel it and know how to use it and not,” Roark said.
“You've got to channel that and hold the nerves in, hold the anxiousness and all that stuff in, and just let it come and let it happen, and that's what you've got to let it do.”
It’s going to an especially emotional outing for Roark, the Wilmington, Illinois native, who grew up cheering for the Cubs. He’s started in the so-called “friendly confines” before (with a 3-1 record, 3.24 ERA, and .265/.318/.357 line against over five games, four starts and 25 IP), but this is postseason baseball in Wrigley Field.
“My mom was -- a Cubs fan and my sister is a Cubs fans and my brother is a Cubs fan, and I used to be a Cubs fan,” Roark said, getting a laugh from reporters.
“Growing up, yeah, there was always some trash-talking in the house between us and my dad. You know, and throughout the town, I feel like there's more Cubs fans than there are White Sox fans.”
Roark knows the current Cubs well too, and said he understood that facing the Joe Maddon-managed team was no easy assignment.
“They have versatility,” he said. “They have guys that can come off the bench that can do just as much as the guys that are starting. You've got to prepare for them. You know that they are going to bring everything they have got to the end. They are going to be out there diving around, jumping around, and this is who they are. They are defending champs, and we have to go out there today and tomorrow and show them what we've got.”