Washington Nationals: Top Five Players of 2016 Season

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Sep 23, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Washington Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer (31) looks on from the dugout against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the sixth inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 23, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Washington Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer (31) looks on from the dugout against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the sixth inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /
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Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports /

TANNER ROARK

16-10 W-L, 2.83 ERA, 172 K, 148 ERA+, 5.5 WAR

When the Nationals needed to have someone replace the injured Strasburg and erratic Gio Gonzalez as a stopper, Tanner Roark came through.

Working a career-high 210 innings, Roark earned the role as No. 2 starter. Nine times out of 33 this year, he held the opposition scoreless into the seventh inning. Only once did he fail to pitch past the third.

His best game of the season came on April 23. At home against the Minnesota Twins, Roark found something extra and fanned a career-high 15. In seven shutout innings, he scattered two hits and three walks. Tossing a season-high 121 pitches, he registered a game score of 85. Seven times in 2016, he topped a game score of 70.

Overshadowed by the next player on this list, Roark gave the Washington Nationals more than they asked for. His sixth-place finish in the ERA crown and fourth in innings will give voters something to consider in their Cy Young ballots.

For Washington, his 5.5 WAR is fourth for NL pitchers. Roark’s ability to keep the ball in the yard, holding hitters to a 0.729-per-nine mark in a record home run year, goes with this season’s mantra of not beating himself. Most teams would consider him an ace. Here, he is considered ours.

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