Tanner Roark earned his first win in four 2017 starts against Atlanta last week, when he faced the Braves in the nation’s capital, going six innings on 108 pitches, and giving up four hits, a walk, and two earned runs in what ended up a 5-2 win.
That outing left Washington’s right-handed starter (8-3) in eleven second-half outings in which he’d put up a 3.18 ERA, 22 walks, 74 Ks, and a .204/.270/.380 line against in 68 innings, after he went (6-6) in 18 appearances (17 of them starts) in the first half of the 2017 campaign, putting up a 5.27 ERA, 36 walks, 80 Ks, and a .278/.343/.417 line against in 100 2⁄3 IP before the All-Star Break.
“He’s getting his stuff,” Dusty Baker said after last week’s start against the Braves.
“He’s right, and he’s the Tanner that we know.”
“I said a long time ago I thought that slow start and not getting enough innings hurt Tanner as much as anybody,” Baker explained this afternoon, pointing to Roark’s stint with Team USA in the WBC as a factor in the righty’s struggles, “... and then you put pressure on yourself and you force things that would normally come natural to you. And so he’s himself now.”
Roark said he had confidence in himself all along that he could turn things around in spite of the results in the first half.
“I learned from earlier on in the year,” Roark said, “just keep going at it, keep grinding, keep working hard and it will turn around.”
Tonight in Atlanta, a leadoff triple and RBI single in the first, and single, two-base error on a pick attempt by Matt Wieters, sac fly, and RBI single in the fourth gave the Braves a 3-1 lead early in the series finale in SunTrust Park.
That was all Roark gave up in a seven-inning outing which saw him retire 10 of the last 11 batters he faced.
Tanner Roark’s Line: 7.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 7 Ks, 101 P, 71 S, 84 GO/FO.
Unfortunately for Roark, and the Nationals’ hitters, Braves’ starter R.A. Dickey had his knuckler working, giving up four hits and two earned runs in eight innings to earn his 10th win of the season.
“[Roark] was throwing the ball great, but Dickey was throwing the ball good too,” Baker told reporters after the Nationals’ 3-2 loss.
“He had his cutter going, he threw some fastballs, well-located, most of them down and away, and Tanner certainly pitched good enough to win.
“We just didn’t get it done tonight, so you’ve got to give the nod to Dickey tonight, cause he was good.”
Roark was asked if he had any particular difficult with Ender Inciarte and Ozzie Albies, the two left-handed hitters atop the Braves’ lineup, who combined to go 3 for 7 with two runs scored between them.
“Facing these guys back-to-back when they’re already a good-hitting team, that’s a challenge in itself,” Roark said. “You can’t divert from the game plan and they already know what you did to them last time, so you’ve just got to trust it and still do it, still go with the game plan and execute your pitches.”