With the Washington Nationals needing every win they can get in order to keep their extremely slim playoff hopes alive, they sent rookie pitcher Tanner Roark out to make his first career start. In sending out a starter with very little big league experience, the results were about as good as the Nats could have hoped for.
Roark was making his first start with the Nats, but it wasn’t his first appearance. He had been coming out of the bullpen for the Nats, and had been pretty solid. Not bad for a guy who had trouble holding onto a rotation spot while he was still in the minor leagues. But an impressive stretch out of the ‘pen earned him the start on Saturday night.
Coming into Saturday night, Roark had gone 4-0 with a 1.19 ERA out of the bullpen, primarily in a long relief role. He tossed 22.2 innings prior to his six inning start on Saturday night. Between his success in relief, and his history as a starter, it was a no brainer to give Roark an opportunity opened up by injuries.
On Saturday night, Roark turned in a pretty nice first impression. He threw six scoreless frames, scattering four hits and striking out four. He didn’t walk a batter on the night. The start helped lower his ERA for the year down to just 0.94 in 28.2 innings, a solid start for his big league career.
The future of Roark with the Nationals isn’t entirely clear, as far as his role is concerned. While he was successful in relief, he had been groomed as a starter throughout his career in the minor league ranks. If the Nats hope to eventually convert him to a starter, this is a good ste ptowards that.