The Washington Nationals earned a series win against the New York Mets in Wednesday’s afternoon game due to clutch hitting and a magnificent outing from one of the better pitchers in their rotation assuming a new responsibility.
Wilson Ramos provided the lone run of the Wednesday’s contest with a solo home run in the seventh inning. That was all the Washington Nationals needed to win 1-0 as Tanner Roark delivered one of his best starts of the season.
Roark fired seven scoreless innings, yielded just three hits, issued four walks and fanned seven batters on 101 pitches (56 strikes).
Roark had a rocky start, as indicated by him walking four batters in the first four innings. However, the right-hander continually made quality pitches in the innings that followed to keep his club in the game.
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The terrific outings by Roark are something the Nationals have seen plenty in 2016. The seven shutout innings he twirled facing the New York Mets lowered his season ERA to 2.75.
He leads the rotation in ERA and is second on the club with 193.2 innings pitched trailing staff ace Max Scherzer, who has thrown 203.2 innings.
It wouldn’t be crazy to say the Roark has usurped Strasburg as the second-best pitcher in the rotation for the Nats.
Strasburg is on the disabled list with a flexor mass strain in his pitching elbow and the team is unsure when he can return.
Strasburg was phenomenal early in the year as he won his first 13 decisions but, with him being sidelined once again, it has created an opportunity for someone else to occupy his role as the co-leader in the rotation.
Roark, including his stellar start against the Mets, has nine outings this year in which he has tossed seven or more innings and kept the opposing team scoreless.
The secret to Roark’s success is varying his pitch selection, throwing the baseball to different quadrants of the strike zone and inducing weak contact. He isn’t a strikeout artist like Scherzer and Strasburg, considering just twice this year has Roark struck out eight or more batters in an outing.
The righty has experienced success in a different way and provided a significant boost to the rotation.
He isn’t a flashy pitcher on the mound but does an excellent job of keeping his team in games. This is a dynamic characteristic to have from a pitcher who doesn’t fit the mold of a prototypical ace on a team with World Series aspirations.
The Nats are a formidable squad with a healthy version of Strasburg, but if he’s not able to pitch in the postseason, Tanner Roark is a worthy replacement to follow Scherzer when the regular season is over.