Washington Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo described starter Tanner Roark as an organizational success story after the right-hander, acquired from the Texas Rangers in a 2010 trade for Cristian Guzman, debuted in 2013 and went 22-11 with a 2.57 ERA in his first 45 games, 36 starts, and 252 1⁄3 IP for the Nats.
“Tanner Roark is an extremely good story for scouting and player development,” Rizzo said.
“Our professional scouts, [Special Assistant to the GM] 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 went (54-44) with a 3.59 ERA, 3.91 FIP, 263 walks, and 732 Ks in 182 games and 141 starts for the Nationals before he was traded to the Cincinnati Reds this past winter in a straight-up deal for reliever Tanner Rainey.
“I thought we had a pretty good staff over there in D.C.,” Roark said after the trade, “but they thought otherwise, and I don’t know what their plans are.
“So I’m just grateful to be a National and there were good times over there.”
Heading into his first start against his former team tonight, Roark, who is (4-3) with a 3.20 ERA, 3.00 FIP, 24 walks, and 49 Ks in 11 starts and 56 1⁄3 IP this season, told reporters it will be strange facing his former teammates.
“It’s going to be weird, especially the first time,” Roark said, as quoted by MASN’s Byron Kerr.
“I’m about to go outside and hit BP, so I’m sure I’ll see some guys, say hello and catch up.”
Going up against the players he knows from his time with the Nationals, Roark said, will be, “... like backyard baseball with your friends.”
Will a motivated Roark hand the Nationals their second loss of the series in Cincinnati or will the Nats, who know the pitcher well, put together a good game plan against the Reds’ right-hander and even things up? We’ll find out at 4:10 PM EDT.