Dave Martinez did alert everyone that he would be fielding lineups full of young Nationals in the first few Grapefruit League games so he could get a look at some players he hasn’t seen before. Martinez is sending a typical road lineup out there this afternoon against the Miami Marlins in Roger Dean Stadium for the second game of the Spring, which is on the radio in the nation’s capital (and on MLB.com’s GameDay audio) with everyone’s favorites Charlie Slowes and Dave Jageler calling the action at 1:05 PM EST.
On the mound for the Nationals today, is Tanner Roark, the 31-year-old right-hander who is coming off an up-and-down 2017 campaign.
Roark, who participated (sparingly) in the World Baseball Classic last Spring, had a rough first half (5.27 ERA, 4.44 FIP, 36 walks (3.22 BB/9), 80 Ks (7.15 K/9), and a .275/.343/.417 line against in 100 2⁄3 innings), but bounced back some after the All-Star Break, posting a 3.90 ERA, 3.75 FIP, 28 walks (3.12 BB/9), 86 Ks (9.60 K/9), and a .222/.292/.397 line against over 80 2⁄3 IP in the so-called second half of the season.
What was different for the right-hander coming out of the Break?
“Just not thinking,” Roark explained this winter. “Not being inside my head and thinking I needed to change stuff, and just trusting my stuff and being the old Tanner that we all know and love... right?”
Will we see a return to form from the righty in 2018? Roark was rewarded for his hard work over the last few seasons with a raise from the $4.315M he made in 2017 to $6.475M when he and the Nationals avoided arbitration and agreed to another one-year deal in January.
He makes his first start of the Spring this afternoon when the Nationals take on the Fish.