As the Nationals’ cling to their playoff lives with a dramatic late-season run an unheralded 26-year-old rookie is piling up victories.
Tanner Roark, a former 25th-round pick acquired from the Rangers for Cristian Guzman in mid-2010 who didn’t make his big-league debut until last month, tossed seven shutout innings against the Braves last night to improve to 7-0 with a 1.08 ERA for the Nationals.
To record seven wins in less than two months is pretty remarkable, especially considering Roark was in the bullpen for most of that time. He went 4-0 with a 1.19 ERA in nine relief appearances totaling 23 innings and then moved into the rotation at the beginning of this month, going 3-0 with a 0.95 ERA in three starts totaling 19 innings.
Obviously he’ll come back down to earth eventually, but Roark’s raw stuff has also been very impressive with an average fastball velocity of 92.6 miles per hour and a mid-80s slider that has been nearly unhittable. And yet before turning into a cross between Pedro Martinez and Mariano Rivera for the Nationals he posted a 3.87 ERA at Triple-A and a 4.21 ERA at Triple-A.
Baseball, you try to explain it.
The Cardinals announced on Tuesday that outfielder Dexter Fowler has been placed on the 10-day disabled list with a strained left forearm. Outfielder Harrison Bader was recalled from Triple-A Memphis to take Fowler’s spot on the roster.
It’s not clear when Fowler suffered the injury, but he went 0-for-12 since a three-hit performance last Friday. He’s hitting .241/.333/.452 with 14 home runs and 37 RBI in 333 plate appearances this season.
Bader, 23, is the Cardinals’ No. 6 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. This season, with Memphis, Bader hit .297/.354/.517 with 19 home runs and 48 RBI in 381 PA.
Jon Morosi of MLB Network said yesterday that the Detroit Tigers and Chicago Cubs have been engaged in trade talks involving starting pitcher Justin Verlander and catcher Alex Avila. Morosi also noted that the Los Angeles Dodgers have shown interest in Verlander as well. Whether this is idyl chitchatting of serious dispute is unclear, of course. Everything is unclear in the leadup to the deadline.
The veteran right-hander is carrying a 4.50 with a 120/57 K/BB ratio over 124 innings. Verlander impressed last year, finishing second in AL Cy Young Award balloting, but he has fallen back to Earth in 2017. His velocity remains high, however, and it’s not hard to imagine him going on a solid run in a way that could help a contender. He is owed $56 million over the next two seasons, however, and has a $22 million option that could vest for 2020, so negotiations for him could be tough. If the Tigers want talent back, they’ll have to eat salary.
Verlander got an ovation from a Detroit crowd last night which seemed to sense that, yes, it’s possible he pitched his last game for the Tigers. Given that he has 10/5 rights, allowing him to veto any trade, that decision is ultimately up to him. It’s not hard to imagine him accepting a trade to a contender, however.
We wait see.