Tanner Roark snapped a five-start winless streak with a strong outing against the Tampa Bay Rays back on June 6th, but in the two starts that followed the 31-year-old right-hander gave up 14 hits, four walks, and seven runs in 10 innings, with his last start before Friday night’s a four-inning outing against Toronto in which the Jays scored four runs total on eight hits over four innings.
“He had 94 pitches and you could tell that it just wasn’t his day, so I wasn’t going to leave him out there any longer,” Martinez explained after what ended up an 8-6 loss.
“I stunk today,” Roark said. “Didn’t really have much working for me.”
Roark struggled in the first inning against the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday too, giving up a walk (on a questionable 3-2 pitch that went the hitter’s way) and two singles, the second, a line drive to left by Carlos Santana that drove in two runs to put the visitors up early in the first of three in Nationals Park.
A half-inning after the Nationals rallied to tie it, Roark gave up a two-run blast to right field by Odubel Herrera, who made it a two-run game again, 4-2 Phillies.
A leadoff double by Rhys Hoskins and a one-out RBI single to right by Nick Williams in the fifth made it a 5-2 game in the visitor’s favor, and Roark was done after throwing 113 total pitches in just 4 1⁄3 innings on the mound.
A sixth earned run scored after Tim Collins took over with the bases loaded in the fifth and gave up an RBI single.
Tanner Roark’s Line: 4.1 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 4 BB, 7 Ks, 113 P, 68 S, 2/4 GO/FO.
“It was a rough day for Tanner,” Martinez said after what ended up a 12-2 loss. He added that he didn’t think it was anything physical for Roark.
“He says he feels fine,” he explained, “... today it just didn’t look like he was attacking the strike zone, to me, threw a lot more breaking pitches, didn’t use his fastball enough, so when you fall behind some of these hitters, they’re pretty good, you’re going to get hit pretty good.”
With rookie starters Erick Fedde and Jefry Rodriguez set to start the second and third with the Phillies, Martinez said he was hoping to at least get Roark through five.
“We really tried to get him through that fifth inning,” he said. “Granted it didn’t go well, but he got us through, and he threw a bunch of pitches. I didn’t want him to throw a lot more pitches, but it was a rough day.”
After he left the mound, Roark spent the rest of the night studying video from 2016 to try to identify what was different that was leading to his struggles.
“I think it’s a small little mechanical thing that I’m going through right now,” Roark said, “... and just sometimes overthink it, but I was watching film for the rest of the game and was looking at myself in ‘16.
“It’s always minor things and something with timing and so that’s what I kind of looked at and was kind of comparing.”
Roark said he wasn’t taxed, but he just wasn’t getting outs, and his pitch count is getting up too high, too fast.
“I still felt pretty good,” Roark explained, “... just not getting quick innings and the last two starts I’ve left the bullpen out to dry and I’m not happy about it. Again tonight I did the same thing with the bullpen, left them out to dry. Just overall bad start again. But I’ve got to stay optimistic and I found something in there, so I’ve got to take a positive out of the negative all the time.”
Asked if the mechanical issue was with a particular pitch, or all his pitches, and what, if anything was working, Roark said, “Curveball was good tonight, that was about the only thing. But, it’s more, like I said, a timing thing, once I get timing with every single pitch it comes out the exact same way, looking exactly the same with the fastball, it will be tough for the hitters.”
“Most of the time it’s something very small that you can turn into something way bigger and then it grows from there, and then you just keep thinking about it and how to change it and it just keeps growing and growing when it’s just something small.”