If things go according to plan this spring, Tanner Roark will be back in the role Fantasy owners hated to see him lose but now aren't so sure they want him to have. That's coming off a tumultuous 2015, when he was unfairly removed from the starter role after a performance that would have made him the No. 2 starter on most staffs, going 15-10 with 2.85 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 6.3 strikeouts per nine innings in 2014. That strikeout rate hinted of some regression to come, but what Roark experienced with his move to the bullpen went far beyond that, which would suggest maybe he was still smarting from the demotion. The silver lining is that he enters 2016 with relief pitcher eligibility, which ups his value in Head-to-Head points leagues, but after the year he just had, he's no lock to be drafted in mixed leagues.
Roark is one of the top internal candidates to fill the two openings in the Nats' rotation in 2016, Bill Ladson of MLB.com reports. Roark and Joe Ross would replace Jordan Zimmermann and Doug Fister in the rotation as things stand, although GM Mike Rizzo could still bring in another starter through trade or free agency, and a big spring from a prospect like Lucas Giolito could create a job battle. Roark had a 2.85 ERA and 15 wins in 31 starts in 2014, so the Nats are comfortable with him taking a regular turn.
Nationals pitcher Tanner Roark (4-7) surrendered five hits, two earned runs and a walk over 6.2 innings in Tuesday's 2-1 loss to the Braves. He struck out four. Roark posted what was easily his best start since taking over for Joe Ross in the rotation, and his 6.2 innings of work and 104 pitches thrown were both season highs. The 28-year-old right-hander was done in Tuesday by a combination of A.J. Pierzynski, who launched two round-trippers off him, and a lack of run support. Roark would be scheduled to receive the start in the Nationals' final game of 2015 against the Mets next Sunday.
Nationals sometimes-starter Tanner Roark proved again Thursday why he's only a sometimes-starter, striking out just one while allowing three runs on five hits and two walks across five innings in a no-decision against Baltimore. Since taking over for Joe Ross in the rotation, Roark has allowed 12 runs in 19 innings. The worst part is that he has failed to get past the fifth inning in all four of his outings. Ross has far much more upside than Roark, but the Nats seem intent on limiting the rookie's innings, which is why they switched roles.
Nationals starter Tanner Roark (4-6) struggled on Thursday, as he allowed six runs on eight hits across five innings in a loss to the Marlins. He struck out four. Roark allowed two home runs in the game and wasn't fooling Marlins hitters one bit, as he drew just seven swinging strikes. The righty has now allowed eight hits in back-to-back games and has failed to get into the sixth inning in either start. With the success that Joe Ross had earlier in the season as the fifth starter, it would not be surprising to see Roark lose the role yet again with his recent struggles.
Nationals pitcher Tanner Roark pitched fairly well on Saturday, but was ultimately left with his fifth loss of the season. Roark allowed two runs on eight hits over 4 2/3 innings in a 2-0 loss to the Marlins. He walked one and struck out two, throwing 40 of his 69 pitches for strikes.