The Nationals Tanner Roark Earns His First Career Start

By James Williams
Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

As the Washington Nationals‘ hopes of returning to the playoffs in 2013 are slipping away by the hour, tonight we get a peek at the team’s future as they face the Miami Marlins in south Florida. Tanner Roark will get his first career start in the major leagues, and heaven knows that he has earned it.

Since he made his MLB debut on August 7 as a long reliever, he has done everything asked of him and more.

Roark will be starting in place of Ross Ohlendorf, who has been less than effective in his last two outings for Washington. So tonight in Miami, he will walk to the mound with a record of 4-0 and a 1.19 ERA over 22.2 innings with 19 strikeouts and seven walks.

Roark will face Miami’s Nathan Eovaldi, who sports a 3-5 record this season with an ERA of 3.40 in his 14 starts. Eovaldi is 1-1 with a 3.75 ERA against the Nationals this season. He last started against Washington on August 27, and gave up two runs on eight hits over six innings.

What makes the Roark story so interesting is that when the Nationals broke camp way back in March to start the 2013 season, he was nowhere in the club’s plans. He was at a crossroads of his career, battling for a spot on the triple-A Syracuse roster. He found himself in Syracuse and was one of the most effective members of the Chiefs’ pitching staff.

After starting the season in the Chiefs’ bullpen, he was promoted to the starting rotation where he pitched by far and away the best baseball of his career, allowing only 12 earned runs over 48.2 innings in eight starts. It was that solid pitching that caught the attention of the Nationals’ front office and got him to Washington in August.

So tonight, Roark makes his bid to finish the season as the team’s fifth starter; but more than that, he attempts to earn a spot in the 2014 Nationals rotation.

Rant Rports columnist James Williams is a seven time Emmy Award winning producer, director and writer. Follow him on Twitter at @Wordmandc and join his Google + group.

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