Evaluating Tanner Roark’s 2016 Rotation Chances For The Washington Nationals
By Ricky Keeler
With 15 games remaining in the regular season and the Washington Nationals tragic number down to eight games, it is time to see which players can build some momentum going into next year. This season has been a rough one for many Nats’ players, whether it’s been because of injuries or inconsistent play. After going 15-10 with a 2.85 ERA, Tanner Roark had to take a new role with the team because of the signing of Max Scherzer.
Due to the Scherzer acquisition, Roark moved to the bullpen and even had a save against the Marlins back in May. However, due to a variety of different factors, Matt Williams has alternated Roark between the rotation and the bullpen. With Joe Ross now in the bullpen, this is the opportunity for Roark to make an impression on a rotation that only has three pitchers locked into next year: Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Gio Gonzalez.
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However, in three starts this month, Roark has not thrown more than 80 pitches in a game, he has a 5.79 ERA in those outings, and opponents have hit .368 against him. While 28 of Roark’s 37 appearances have been out of the bullpen, the 28-year-old has a 5.66 ERA in nine starts this season.
If Roark struggles in his last couple of starts this season, he will be another question mark in a rotation searching for new pieces if Jordan Zimmermann and Doug Fister both leave via free agency. Now, you could attribute part of Roark’s struggles to constantly having his role switched around, but he won’t make that excuse, to his credit:
The question for Mike Rizzo going into next season is how to fill out the back of the rotation. The Nats still have A.J. Cole, who did make a start for them this year in Atlanta and Ross showed the fans what the organization saw when they acquired him in the Steven Souza deal over the winter.One thing Roark could be for the Nationals is a trade asset this winter. He is under team control until at least 2020 and he does have one good season in a rotation under his belt.
However, the team wouldn’t exactly get a great package of players/prospects in return for him. However, maybe they make a deal similar to the one they made with Texas this past winter when they got second base prospect Chris Bostick and a young power throwing reliever in Abel De Los Santos for Ross Detwiler.
While Roark has been the ultimate team player for the Nationals in 2015, you have to wonder what role he exactly has with the team going forward. While the Nats might not have much to play for over the next two weeks in terms of a playoff spot, you can make the case Roark is pitching to keep his chances at being in the 2016 rotation alive.