Washington Nationals Opinions: Who Should Replace Doug Fister in the Rotation?

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May 4, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond (20) and Washington Nationals relief pitcher Tanner Roark (57) celebrate after the game against the Miami Marlins at Nationals Park. The Washington Nationals won 6-4. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Tanner Roark: Pros

At first glance, Tanner Roark seems like the most logical choice to take the spot of Fister. After all, just last year, in his first season as a starter, Roark acquitted himself nicely, going 15-10 with an ERA of 2.85 and a FIP of 3.47. So far in 2015, he’s been decent – though far from perfect – in a relief role. Roark has the requisite experience at the Major League level, and he’s proven his mettle as a guy who can give you solid production every five days as part of the rotation.

That experience cannot be discounted, either. A.J. Cole, the Nationals young starter and the other name to pop up as a potential replacement for Fister, got the first start of his career in a spot start back on April 28. To call that start a disaster would be understating how poorly he performed. Cole ended up surrendering nine runs (four earned) over just two innings. He imploded under the pressure, throwing pitches to the backstop and showing a complete lack of command.

While the Nationals eventually won that game and have since gone a long way toward righting the ship after an inauspicious start to the season, the last thing they need is having an inexperienced starter on the mound. Doing so would mean too much pressure on the other four starters and, more importantly, it would tax a bullpen that’s already stretched thin from the burden it’s been asked to bear.

The Nationals must also think about the future of Roark. He’s under team control until he’s 33 (he’s 28 now), and giving him the role of “interim starter” could serve to build up goodwill with the young pitcher. After all, A.J. Cole seems almost certain to have a spot waiting for him in the Nationals future. Roark, on the other hand, has a future that’s much less clear. Letting him take a few spot starts here could go a long way to making sure Roark knows he’s truly valued by the club.

Next: Case Against Tanner Roark

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