Washington Nationals: Grading the starting rotation so far

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CINCINNATI, OH - MARCH 31: Stephen Strasburg #37 of the Washington Nationals gets a visit from pitching coach Derek Lilliquist in the sixth inning of the game against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on March 31, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Nationals won 13-7. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - MARCH 31: Stephen Strasburg #37 of the Washington Nationals gets a visit from pitching coach Derek Lilliquist in the sixth inning of the game against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on March 31, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Nationals won 13-7. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /
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Tanner Roark in the middle of the road

It’s been a strange start to the season for Tanner Roark, and has been a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde pitcher. He’s had some dominant starts, but also thrown a couple of clunkers too.

The 3.33 ERA and 1.013 WHIP both seem to indicate that overall he’s still doing a serviceable job. And for the Nationals, that’s fine for now as he’s the fourth starter. Especially if he can keep serving up performances like his showing against the Diamondbacks on Thursday.

But the signs aren’t pretty for the rest of this season. He currently owns a .220 BABIP allowed, which is way below his career .275 number. So although he’s known for inducing soft contact that’s a worrying sign that his stats may not be for real.

And the good old FIP stat also projects some regression too at 4.28 as his HR/9 is up to 1.2 this year. And that could begin as soon as his next start against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

If the regression does come, then it will be interesting to see if Roark can actually maintain his rotation spot. Erick Fedde has stuttered to start off at AAA, but if he can pitch like he has previously, he could make a bid for a rotation spot.

The Nationals lack of a long reliever could also be a factor, were Fedde to excel at AAA. It was the role that allowed Roark to first burst onto the scene back in 2013.

While it will take a fair amount for this to happen, it’s certainly possible given the potential regression and the only real gaping hole in the Nats roster being the bullpen long-man.

Right now, Roark is the weak link, but in a rotation that’s pitching out of it’s mind, that’s not the worst statement in the world. C+

C+. Very hit and miss, could be the weak link right now. SP. Washington Nationals. TANNER ROARK

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