Roark will not be with the Washington Nationals for the full spring training because he will be pitching for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic. Since he’s in the designated pitcher pool, he will make only one start in Pool C against Colombia, the Dominican Republic, or Canada.
His spring training was much different in 2016 compared to 2015 because he was used as a reliever during the ’15 season. It’s safe to say Roark’s spot is in the starting rotation after going 16-10 with a 2.83 ERA last year.
Even though participating in the World Baseball Classic can worry some fans because of the injury risk, having Roark only make one appearance isn’t the worst thing and it allows him to stay on a somewhat normal routine.
Then, he can come back from Miami to West Palm Beach and get himself ready for the regular season. Plus, who knows if he ends up being used as a starter or reliever in any of Team USA’s first three games.
Last spring training, Roark showed good command of pitches. He walked only three batters in five outings, which was the lowest of any Washington Nationals starting pitcher. That trend didn’t continue in the regular season as he walked 73 batters, 14 more than the second highest (Gio Gonzalez – 59).
When Roark has been in the starting rotation (2014 and 2016), he has proven to be one of those pitchers the Nats can depend upon when they need a win. Now that he has shown that, the expectations will be higher for him in 2017 to be a top of the line pitcher.