Washington Nationals' Tanner Roark is Best Young Pitcher You Haven't Yet Heard Of

By Brian Skinnell
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

If there’s one thing that the Washington Nationals are set at for the future, it’s pitching. All throughout the season, we have seen guys from the minor leagues step in and perform when a key pitcher goes down. Pitcher Tanner Roark has seized his opportunity and has likely locked up a spot in next year’s MLB-level rotation.

All through August and now into September, we have been treated to masterpiece after masterpiece on the mound from Roark. He started off as a relief pitcher, and following the shutdown of other future pitching phenom Taylor Jordan, he’s recently moved into a starting role. No matter his role, he has been poised and strong on the mound.

In his first major league appearance back on August 7 against the visiting Atlanta Braves, Roark pitched two innings of one-hit baseball. It was until his third appearance against the San Francisco Giants that Roark even gave up a run, and that one wasn’t even earned.

You have to look to his fifth appearance against the Chicago Cubs to find an instance where Roark allowed an earned run. After that, Roark went 7.2 innings over three appearances without giving up another run.

On September 7, Roark got his first crack at being a major league starter against the Miami Marlins. Being a starting pitcher is very different from the role of a relief pitcher or closer. If Roark wants to find himself on the MLB roster next year, he was going to have show that he can do both.

Against the Marlins, that’s exactly what he did. Roark pitched scoreless, four-hit innings four en route to picking up his first win as a starter.

Thursday marked Roark’s next greatest appearance as a Nationals starter. Roark pitched six solid innings against the Mets, giving up just two runs on six hits while striking out three. After giving up a run in the first inning, Roark settled in and didn’t give up a hit until the fourth inning. Unfortunately, his ERA did go up … to 1.30.

Next year, Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann are locks for three of the five spots in the starting rotation. With the way he’s pitched in 2013, Roark has made a pretty strong case for one of the two remaining spots in 2014.

Get yourself acquainted with this young man. He’s going to be an ace at the major league level next year and for years to come.

Brian Skinnell is a writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter, Like him on Facebook and add him to your network on Google.

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