clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Tanner Roark: WBC American hero and Washington Nationals’ starter tonight...

Tanner Roark takes the mound tonight in Game 2 of 162 for the 2017 Washington Nationals, after he represented the U.S. in the WBC this Spring.

Division Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v Washington Nationals - Game Two Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Fresh off his success on the international stage in the World Baseball Classic, Tanner Roark returns to the nation’s capital tonight to take on the Miami Marlins in regular season action in Game 2 of the 2017 campaign.

Roark was used sparingly in the WBC by Team USA skipper Jim Leyland, making one less-than-spectacular relief appearance early, then waiting for another opportunity.

He got it in the United States’ semi-final matchup against Japan and made the most of the chance, tossing four scoreless innings in what ended up a 2-1 win.

“The key tonight, without question, was Tanner Roark,” Leyland told reporters after the win that night.

World Baseball Classic - Championship Round - Game 2 - United States v Japan Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

“There is no question about that. We needed some innings from him, and he gave us those innings. We stayed right in the plan with the Nationals and Tanner, but had he come out tonight and gotten off to a rocky start, we could have been in trouble.

“He was the guy that I wanted all along for this thing. I've seen him from afar quite a bit, and he was a guy that stuck with us, and I respect him. I felt great about it. I told everybody last night, I felt great about my starting pitcher tonight.

“For once in my life I was proved to be right.”

Roark returned to Grapefruit League action after that outing, making one last start for the Nationals as he prepared for the 2017 campaign.

He gave up one run on three hits in 5 13 innings pitched in a 71-pitch effort, finishing the Spring with just that one earned run allowed in 12 13 innings.

Though he got less work in than he likely would have had he remained with the Nats throughout Spring Training, Roark said after the start against Houston he would be ready for the start of the season.

“I could obviously be a little more further along. But I think I’ll be just fine,” Roark told reporters, as quoted by Washington Post writer Chelsea Janes.

“Just need to take care of my body and do my work to prepare myself for the season.”

Roark continues his somewhat improbable journey tonight when he takes on the Miami Marlins in his first start of the 2017 campaign.

The Texas Rangers’ 25th Round Draft pick in 2008, acquired by the Nats in a July 2010 trade, finished the 2016 campaign with a (16-10) record, a 2.83 ERA, 3.79 FIP, 73 walks (3.13 BB/9), 172 Ks (7.37 K/9) in 34 games, 33 starts and 210 innings (207 23 IP as a starter) holding hitters to a combined .227/.309/.330 in his starts in a 3.2 fWAR season.

In an MLB Network Radio interview last May, Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo talked about Roark’s success as a triumph for the entire organization.

"Tanner Roark is an extremely good story for scouting and player development," Rizzo said.

"Our professional scouts, Jay Robertson in particular, and our scouting department identified him in a trade that we made a while back. It was a low-level trade with Cristian Guzman and got ourselves two good arms that we really liked and player development has really allowed this kid to step to the next level.

“He's a very confident pitcher on the mound. He's got four good pitches. He's not a soft-tossing, command-only guy. He can run it up to 94-95 if he has to. He pitches at 90-92, 93 with his sinker, but his command has really separated him from the pack in our organization and he's a guy that can really pitch to four quadrants of the plate with four pitches and on any given day can really go out there and handcuff some good-hitting ballclubs."

"He's been a great story for us and a really good scouting and player development story in general."

Roark’s story continues tonight when he takes on the Marlins in Game 2 of 162 for the Nationals.