Ever since Ross Detwiler was removed from the fifth starter conversation by manager Matt Williams, many have become convinced that Tanner Roark is now the leading candidate to win the job. And while we probably won’t find out who will get the job until later this week, Roark has certainly been pitching like he deserves the job over his last few starts.
Sunday was no exception as the right-hander dominated the Mets’ lineup for five and two-thirds innings. Roark gave up just one run on two hits while striking out five batters and walking one. Today’s performance may not have sealed the deal for Roark, but it certainly seems to have tipped the scale in his favor for the fifth spot in the rotation.
It didn’t hurt that the Nationals gave Roark an early lead after scoring a run in the top of the first inning thanks to instant replay, which worked in favor of Williams and the Nationals for the first time this spring.
The play came with one out in the first inning when Harper attempted to steal second and was apparently thrown out by Mets’ catcher Anthony Recker. But for Harper, Williams and everyone watching at home, it looked like Harper may have slid under the glove of Mets’ second baseman Daniel Murphy. Williams challenged the call and after a quick delay, Harper was sent back to second base and the Nationals had a runner in scoring position with one out. Harper would eventually score on an RBI infield single by Ryan Zimmerman, giving the Nationals a 1-0 lead.
It remained a one-run game until the Mets finally broke through against Roark in the bottom of the fifth inning with an RBI single by Andrew Brown, tying the game at one. New York took a 3-1 lead two innings later thanks to a two-run home run by Curtis Granderson against Nationals’ reliever Drew Storen. Neither team would score again the rest of the way, and the Mets took this one 3-1.
The Nationals will continue their final stretch of Grape Fruit League games tomorrow afternoon when they take on the Miami Marlins at 1:05 p.m. EST.