Nationals Opinions: Five Players To Watch This Spring

4 of 6

Tanner Roark

With the lucrative signing of Max Scherzer, the Washington Nationals now have six starters in the rotation, which would leave the team with one extra starter. With Gio Gonzalez getting the five spot, how will Tanner Roark handle being the odd man out after a great 2014 season (15-10, 2.85 ERA)?

Now, Matt William is going to prepare Roark as if he were pitching in the rotation, which is the right strategy to have. Even though the Nats have five starters already, you can never have enough pitchers in the rotation in case of an injury.

At first, I thought Roark could be an option for the eighth inning role, but that spot has already been filled with the signing of free agent reliever Casey Janssen. Plus, Roark’s stuff doesn’t transition to being one of those hard-throwing relievers in the later innings.

I would expect Matt Williams to give him a couple starts this Spring to get him used to the starter role in transition to starting off the season as the long man. While he won’t get the regular work you would like the 28-year-old to get, he can still be a positive for the Nationals because he can be a long man that will keep the offense in the game more often than not.

Roark’s mentality this Spring is going to be intriguing to watch, especially since he knows that he is the odd man out due to the Scherzer signing. He should see some starts throughout the season, but unless Jordan Zimmermann gets traded, he is going to be the long man in an already solid bullpen. There is a lot of promise in Roark, but for now, he has to wait his turn unless there is a trade or injury.