Tanner Roark makes his third start of the Spring this afternoon when the defending NL East champion Washington Nationals take on the St. Louis Cardinals at 1:05 PM EST in Grapefruit League action from Jupiter, FL’s Roger Dean Stadium.
Roark, 31, went two innings in his second outing of the 2018 campaign last week, giving up a walk and a hit, with two unearned runs scoring while he was on the mound against the Miami Marlins.
Coming off a 2017 season which saw him go (13-11) in 32 games (30 starts), with a 4.67 ERA, 4.13 FIP, 64 walks (3.18 BB/9), 166 Ks (8.24 K/9), and a .251/.321/.405 line against in 175 1⁄3 innings pitched as a starter, the right-hander talked this winter about what he was able to sort out in the second half after he struggled on the mound in the first half of his fifth major league season.
“Just not thinking,” is the key, Roark explained. “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? That’s what it was, it was just stop thinking and trust it and let it happen.”
Though he didn’t get a start in the NLDS against the Chicago Cubs last October, Roark’s GM, Mike Rizzo, told reporters this winter that he knows and appreciates what the right-hander brings to the table as part of the Nationals’ rotation.
“Tanner is the most under-appreciated player we’ve got,” Rizzo said.
“He’s the ultimate team player. This guy never says a negative word. He’s all about the team. He’s the type of guy that I love having him on the mound. You know he’s going to leave everything out there, and he’s been very, very successful in his career here, and we hope that continues. We control him for a long time, and we’re looking forward to him having a big season.”