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Roark passes another test with save against Marlins

May 5, 2015, 10:00 AM EDT

Photo by USA Today

In his relatively short MLB career, Tanner Roark has already gone from afterthought prospect to surprise bullpen contributor to a 15-win starter and now back to relieving, somehow finding success at each stop. The former 25th round pick who lost 17 games at Triple-A the year before he debuted has become a baseball renaissance man. Ask him to do just about anything and he will do it well.

But before Monday night, there was one thing Roark had not done. He’s been excellent in middle relief, long relief, setup situations and as a starter, so what about closing? Sure, why not.

Roark finally got the opportunity to save a game in the Nationals’ 6-4 win over the Marlins on Monday night due to closer Drew Storen being unavailable. Storen had pitched on consecutive nights, so Matt Williams needed somebody to step in.

Rookie Sammy Solis was also warming up in the bullpen when the phone rang, but Roark’s name was called.

“He’s been in big moments, been in big games, it doesn’t matter to him which inning it is. It’s about getting outs,” Williams said.

Roark had last saved a game on June 7, 2013 with Triple-A Syracuse. Roark doesn’t even remember getting the save that day, so this all felt very new to him.

“I was definitely amped up big-time,” he said. “Especially since we tied the game and went ahead. I was just even more amped up and ready to get out there. It was an adrenaline rush.”

Despite allowing a one-out single to Dee Gordon, Roark shut the door on the Marlins and punctuated his outing with a swinging strikeout against feared slugger Giancarlo Stanton. Stanton came to the plate with two outs and Gordon on second. He gets a hold of one, it could tie the game.

“He’s a great hitter,” Roark said. “I was trying to make him chase my pitches and it worked out that way. I’m just grateful for that. I’m glad we came out on top in a huge win.”

Roark started the count with three balls before firing three consecutive strikes. The first caught Stanton looking and the final two got him swinging on balls that crossed the outside of the plate.

“He got behind him. Gave him a 3-0 fastball that he took, then two really good sliders,” Williams said. “It’s never comfortable when he stands at the plate, but Tanner made some good pitches tonight.”

With how good Roark has been since debuting in August of 2013, him going out and earning a save like he’s done it before came as no surprise to his teammates and manager.

“Any role you put him in, he kinda thrives it seems like. He’s definitely an asset to our team and it’s fun to watch him get better and better each time he goes out there,” Ian Desmond said.

“It’s a testament to his attitude and his work ethic. He’s excited to pitch, whenever that is. Whether that’s starting a game, whether that’s in the sixth inning, whether that’s closing a game,” Williams explained.

“Circumstances dictate sometimes that there are different roles for guys, and he’s the perfect mentality to put in that role, because it doesn’t much matter to him. It’s about three outs and that’s all.”

 

 

  1. Ghost of Steve M. - May 5, 2015 at 10:11 AM

    .@thisisdspan played this PERFECTLY with 97.9% route efficiency. http://t.co/ipPN8Gv34b http://t.co/v5R2C4WPtg

    As I wrote last night if they #Statcast on Span it would be 98% route efficiency and 18mph. Well he actually went top speed at 19mph!

    • Section 222 - May 5, 2015 at 10:14 AM

      Very cool. Thanks for posting. Any idea why they don’t show the “reaction time” or whatever they call how long it took for him to take his first step?

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 5, 2015 at 10:20 AM

        They were showing that and yes you’re correct they call it Reaction time which is first step time from contact off the bat. That’s also a key to consider. Span makes it look easy and #Statcast will judge him more favorably than UZR and for outfielders #Statcast should be the standard as it’s an objective system.

      • Section 222 - May 5, 2015 at 10:27 AM

        But this statcast shows speed, distance covered, and route efficiency, but not reaction time? Seems like that’s a key component of how he made the catch (and didn’t need to dive). Can it be found somewhere?

      • nats128 - May 5, 2015 at 10:34 AM

        During the Cardinals game they had reaction times. Now they dont. Probaly tweaking it.

      • Joe Seamhead - May 5, 2015 at 1:51 PM

        As I asked when I posted the Span StatsCast earlier on the last blog, what’s a guy gotta do to get a 100% rating on route efficiency? That was pretty close to a perfect 10.

    • NatsNut - May 5, 2015 at 10:53 AM

      He ran a country mile to catch that thing. Nobody in my seating area thought he would even come close, then, poof, there he was. I LOVE this guy.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 5, 2015 at 11:13 AM

        That’s a Gold Star play. It would never get a Web Gem as that unfortunately entails a dive or a crash or a circus contortion.

        Oh well, we appreciate those types of plays. Any time you cover over 80 feet and catch a ball that isn’t a high flyout you are covering ground.

        Just spectacular.

    • zmunchkin - May 5, 2015 at 11:04 AM

      I hope you are right Ghost about this becoming the standard. And I hope that MLB and ESPN factor this in when they pick their plays of the day/web gems. Far too many times the plays that make the highlights are plays where the player had to dive, or slide, or …. because they misread the ball, got a bad jump, took a bad route.

      An objective way to measure these plays is a good thing!

    • Doc - May 5, 2015 at 11:33 AM

      I think that American Pharoh won at 36.5 mph, but that is a horse of a different race track—I’ll take Den’s speed any day. I’ll bet he hasn’t lost much footage over the years.

      Thanks for the great link GhostMeister!!!!! Aren’t baseball advanced graphics/stats grrrrrrrrrrrate!!!!!

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 5, 2015 at 1:45 PM

        I’ve been waiting for Statcast for years and I learned that American Pharoah still can’t play CF.

  2. adcwonk - May 5, 2015 at 10:31 AM

    Slightly off topic — did anybody catch the news on Felipe Rivera? Yowza! (If it was here, I missed it)

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/nationals-journal/wp/2015/05/04/not-for-the-faint-of-heart-nationals-reliever-felipe-riveros-harrowing-two-weeks/

    • nats128 - May 5, 2015 at 10:37 AM

      Oh my……

    • Eugene in Oregon - May 5, 2015 at 10:38 AM

      Thanks for the link. Glad to hear they caught it and are treating it.

    • ehay2k - May 5, 2015 at 11:06 AM

      Wow. Terrible ordeal, glad he’s pulling through. At his age, you’d have to be taking a lot of anti-inflammatory drugs to burn a hole in your stomach.

      Remember kids, Advil is sugar coated but that doesn’t make it candy.

      • Eugene in Oregon - May 5, 2015 at 12:27 PM

        I re-read Ball Four over the winter and Jim Bouton had similar problems (hence his drinking milk in the clubhouse when the Seattle manager wanted them all to ‘pound that old Budweiser’). I don’t know if it’s a function of age as much as it’s being a professional pitcher.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - May 5, 2015 at 1:37 PM

        On medical advice, I added LECITHIN to my NSAID regimen (naproxen Na, in my case) to good efffect. It’s been studied and shown helpful for exactly this purpose in humans, and interestingly, other athletes, viz., race horses.

        Lecithin has been well studied in its ability to treat ulcers. Researchers* at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston examined the administration of PC along with NSAIDs and found that not only does PC significantly reduce gastrointestinal injury, but in some cases, it even eliminated gastrointestinal ulcerations. Furthermore, it offers this protection without altering the efficacy of bute (or other NSAID).
        http://gettyequinenutrition.biz/Library/LecithinInhibitsButeRelatedUlcers.htm

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - May 5, 2015 at 1:38 PM

        On medical advice, I added LECITHIN to my NSAID regimen (naproxen Na, in my case) to good effect. It’s been studied and shown helpful for exactly this purpose in humans, and interestingly, other athletes, viz., race horses.

        Lecithin has been well studied in its ability to treat ulcers. Researchers* at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston examined the administration of PC along with NSAIDs and found that not only does PC significantly reduce gastrointestinal injury, but in some cases, it even eliminated gastrointestinal ulcerations. Furthermore, it offers this protection without altering the efficacy of bute (or other NSAID).
        http://gettyequinenutrition.biz/Library/LecithinInhibitsButeRelatedUlcers.htm

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - May 5, 2015 at 1:38 PM

        Hey, that’s not supposed to happen.

  3. Eugene in Oregon - May 5, 2015 at 10:47 AM

    I know it’s not a perfect comparison (game situation, warm-up time, etc.), but in his 31 first innings last season as a starter, Tanner Roark had a 2.03 ERA, allowing opponents a .200/.246/.264 slash line. But he only struck out 18 batters in those 31 first innings, low by closer standards.

  4. NatsNut - May 5, 2015 at 10:49 AM

    Storen: Sure. Enjoy your little save. It’s all fun and games until this happens: http://bit.ly/1zKeyZQ

    • ehay2k - May 5, 2015 at 11:03 AM

      Dark times. Very dark times.

    • jfmii - May 5, 2015 at 1:47 PM

      What was the point of posting that link?

  5. ehay2k - May 5, 2015 at 11:03 AM

    Looking forward to the game tonite. I want to see how Stras performs. Had a bit of a spotlight on him after the last start and wonder what effect that will have on him. Is he out to prove something? I guess I like his pitching better when he has a chip on his shoulder.

    I also wonder if Ramos or Lobo will catch him. I have a hunch it will be Lobo, but Ramos has a hot bat and MW has shown so far that he doesn’t like to sit hot hitters.

    • homeparkdc - May 5, 2015 at 11:24 AM

      I’ve been following the pitching stats http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/WSN/2015.shtml
      JZimm was the first with 6 games. I’d guess they have some pool (organized by Scherzer, of course) for each game. Hope so anyway. Also hoping success follows success. Re: Roark. Weeks ago, I called him a Utility Pitcher. Got 0 feedback, btw.

      • ehay2k - May 5, 2015 at 11:32 AM

        And looking at those stats just confirms: A) How good the staff is; B) How many un-earned runs have been hung on the pitchers (Zimnn has 5); and C) How good Scherzer is.

      • homeparkdc - May 5, 2015 at 11:39 AM

        Went back to look. Nats are NL fifth in SO and that’s including the rough starts. Bodes well….no jinx intended.

    • virginiascopist - May 5, 2015 at 2:04 PM

      I’ve also been wondering about who will catch tonight. I would love it if MW would put in Lobo since he seems to have a better chemistry with Stras than Ramos. Not advocating a personal catcher type of situation, but does it really matter if Lobo catches tonight versus tomorrow?

      • homeparkdc - May 5, 2015 at 2:16 PM

        Right, we wouldn’t want Stras to be accused of having a personal catcher again like last year (wink, wink, like an unintentional intentional BB).

  6. Mrsb loves the Nats - May 5, 2015 at 11:05 AM

    “I’n his relatively short MLB career, Tanner Roark has already gone from afterthought prospect…’

    ====

    Not in my household… my brother will preach to anyone listening that Tanner should be in the starting rotation…

    I was nervous as heck for him in the save. Thought it was a good sequence to Stanton. Think the first 3 pitches were purposely done so that Stanton wouldnt swing at the 3-0 pitch… But the next 2 pitches were things of beauty…

    Excited for the game tonight. Going to be tough to watch this game and the Wiz playoff game at the same time…

    • bowdenball - May 5, 2015 at 12:51 PM

      I assume the “afterthought prospect” was a reference to Roark’s status prior to his 2013 callup. If your brother thought Tanner should be in the starting rotation based on his 4.04 career ERA in the minors prior to that we need to get him on the scouting staff!

  7. nats128 - May 5, 2015 at 11:21 AM

    The Mets have a tough schedule coming up.

    Orioles 2 games unfortunately Bud Norris pitching tonight
    Philles 3 games
    Cubs 4 games
    Brewers 3 games
    Cardinals 4 games

  8. Doc - May 5, 2015 at 11:41 AM

    Tanner Roark is the man!!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. thewerthwhisperer - May 5, 2015 at 11:49 AM

    Roark hit 96 on the radar gun last night. Did anyone know he threw that hard? I guess when he doesn’t have to pace himself, but wow, it was impressive to see in person how he handled Stanton, who had already hit three rockets.
    BTW, I was sitting left field, seeks like Werth took his eye off Stanton’s first inning shot. Can’t blame that on spring training.

    • nats128 - May 5, 2015 at 12:11 PM

      He was throwing 95 in the playoffs when he came in as a reliever.

    • adcwonk - May 5, 2015 at 12:18 PM

      seeks like Werth took his eye off Stanton’s first inning shot. Can’t blame that on spring training.

      On the slo-mo replay — which gave a great view of his eyes — you can see that Werth did look it all the way into his glove.

      But there was a split second, when it looks like his left forearm crossed in front of his eyes thereby blocking his own view for that split second.

      Not making any excuses — just saying that he *was* looking the ball all the way into his mitt.

      • homeparkdc - May 5, 2015 at 12:44 PM

        As I remember (not always perfection), Werth had a couple of errors late in 2014. He then retired his favorite well-used glove named “Betsy” for a new one. Perhaps for sentimental/superstitious reasons, Betsy is back in the game?

    • ArVAFan - May 5, 2015 at 12:35 PM

      Roark admitted that he was amped up, given the 4 run inning before he came in. Might have helped his velo–plus knowing he didn’t need to save anything for more innings. Here’s hoping for more of those opportunities–with the same outcome!

  10. Section 222 - May 5, 2015 at 12:31 PM

    It’s great that MW used Roark last night for the save and that he was successful. Hopefully that will lead to more frequent use and more high leverage spots for him. He’s an important weapon in our bullpen, and he’s been way underutilized so far.

    Case in point: Roark has 9 appearances so far, and in four of them the Nats were behind by 2 or more runs. Treinen has been in 11 games, and only 3 of them involved that kind of “mop up” duty. If those numbers were reversed, I wonder how many more wins we might have.

  11. jtater42 - May 5, 2015 at 12:39 PM

    Reblogged this on Marlins Rising.

  12. scnatsfan - May 5, 2015 at 1:27 PM

    Roark has become what we hoped et would last year – just closed his mouth and did the job he was asked, doing it very well. Props to him for being a professional. He could have sulked, could have demanded a trade but knows he’s just a cog in the machine.

    • sec105rowwseat28 - May 5, 2015 at 1:50 PM

      Roark is also a better pitcher than Detwiler ever was.

      • scnatsfan - May 5, 2015 at 1:54 PM

        Agreed but Det isn’t as bad as he looked last year

    • Steady Eddie - May 5, 2015 at 2:07 PM

      Also Roark is fully aware that as long as he doesn’t completely fall apart this season, he has a starter’s job lined up in the rotation for next year. And oils he really want to go to another team knowing how he’s valued here and what kind of team this is?

      Roark is a smart guy and has bided his time in the minors long enough to know it would be foolish to want out based on a one-year and clearly very temporary situation.

      Not that he hasn’t been great in how he’s carried himself this season. But if he didn’t, he’d be missing the big picture — and he clearly doesn’t.

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