Washington Nationals Player Of The Week (4/18-4/24): Tanner Roark
The third player of the week award for the 2016 Washington Nationals goes to Tanner Roark for his great start on Saturday
So far, the two Washington Nationals players who have received our Player of the Week awards have gone to Daniel Murphy and Bryce Harper. This week, we have chosen to give it to a pitcher for the first time this year. While Stephen Strasburg (15.1 innings, four runs, 20 K’s), Harper (three home runs, eight RBI’s in his last seven games) and Yusmeiro Petit (2.77 ERA) made a great case to get the award, this week’s award goes to Tanner Roark.
Roark had the best performance of his career on Saturday afternoon against the Minnesota Twins at Nats Park. The right-hander went seven innings, gave up no runs on two hits, struck out a career-high 15 batters, and walked three on 121 pitches (78 strikes).
This start was a great bounceback for Roark who had a tough time against the Miami Marlins on Monday night. He went six innings, gave up five runs (four earned) on seven hits, struck out two, and walked two on 88 pitches (54 strikes). The difference in that game was Miami’s three-run first inning and the Nats having to go up against Jose Fernandez.
For Roark, everything was working for him on Saturday afternoon. After his 2-0 win, he told the media that this was the best game he has thrown in his entire career:
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Even though his pitch count was high, Dusty Baker stuck with Roark and he was able to retire 17 of the final 19 batters he faced (two walks) after giving up two hits in the first two innings (Joe Mauer single and Max Kepler double).
Back in 2014, when Roark won 15 games for the Washington Nationals, he had 11 K’s in a game against the San Diego Padres back on June 6. He isn’t known for being a strikeout pitcher, but Roark’s 24 K’s through four starts are second on the team behind Strasburg.
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He will get a chance in his next start against the Phillies on Thursday afternoon to break his career-high for most strikeouts in a month (29 in July 2014). Roark will get that start because Joe Ross has been skipped because of the blister on his right middle finger.
Early on in the season, the impact of Mike Maddux as the new pitching coach of the Washington Nationals has been evident in all of the starters, especially Roark. Outside of two bad outings against the Marlins (one interrupted by a rain delay), it’s been a good first month back in the rotation for the 29-year-old Roark.