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.
CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury reports that Phillies outfielder Nick Williams has been working out daily with free agent starter Jake Arrieta in Austin. The right-hander, who won the 2015 National League Cy Young Award, still remains teamless with spring training less than a month away. Williams has been trying to sell Arrieta on joining the Phillies.
Williams said of Arrieta, “He loves it here [Austin]. He has told me he likes working with young guys. I’m like, ‘All right, come on up.’ But I’m not writing the check. I don’t know what he wants. I don’t really dig into that because I’m not really in his position.”
On GM Matt Klentak’s hunt for pitching help, new manager Gabe Kapler said, “The pursuit is very real. I have a lot of trust that we’ll either go in [to spring training] with a new toy or we will pass on the opportunity because we’re better off giving this collection of pitchers a really healthy look because we thought that we could go acquire that piece a little bit later on this season or in the offseason next year.”
Arrieta, who turns 32 years old in March, went 14-10 with a 3.53 ERA and a 163/55 K/BB ratio in 168 1/3 innings last season with the Cubs. The Cubs, Cardinals, and Brewers have been linked to Arrieta this month.
Presently, the Phillies’ starting rotation figures to include Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, and Vince Velasquez along with some combination of Nick Pivetta, Ben Lively, Zach Eflin, Mark Leiter, and Jake Thompson. Arrieta would certainly amount to a big upgrade in the starting rotation and could make the Phillies a more attractive landing spot for Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, who become free agents after the 2018 campaign. The Phillies are expected to be in the mix for either or both players.