Washington Nationals Rapid Reaction: Stephen Strasburg Shines, Tanner Roark Flounders

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Jun 11, 2015; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Washington Nationals manager Matt Williams (C) takes the ball from pitcher Tanner Roark (57) in the seventh inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park. The Brewers won 6-5. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Game 2: Tanner Roark Struggles

The Nationals waited until after the first game of the doubleheader in order to announce their starter, the logic being that if Strasburg struggled and the Nats needed Roark to pitch in relief, he wouldn’t be available for the second game and the Nats would likely have had to call on Taylor Jordan. Instead, Strasburg was brilliant and Roark was called upon to make the start.

Unfortunately, that didn’t work out very well for either Roark or the Nationals. Roark managed to make it through just 3.1 innings of work before he was yanked in favor of Felipe Rivero. By the time the book was closed on him, Roark had surrendered eight runs, all of them earned, on twelve hits and one walk. Roark hung pitch after pitch out over the plate, and the Phillies lineup, even as bad as it is, continued to make him pay time and time again.

It’s hard not to feel bad for Roark. This was just his first start since June 16 and throughout the course of the season, he’s been asked to switch roles multiple times due to anything ranging from injury to inclement weather, as was the case Sunday. He’s gone from being the long reliever to being a replacement starter to back to the bullpen again. All of those changes can’t possibly help him get settled in the way he needs to be in order to perform at his best.

Hopefully, Roark isn’t called on to make another emergency start and he can settle into his role as the long reliever. If he’s asked to continually make starts with little notice and without the chance to stretch himself out appropriately, the Nats are doing a disservice to Roark and themselves, and that can only end badly, as Sunday’s game just goes to show.

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