As the Pittsburgh Pirates continue to search for starting pitching help this offseason, one potential trade target is Tanner Roark.
This offseason the Pittsburgh Pirates need to add at least two starting pitchers. Due to a very weak free agent market, their best bet is to attempt to do it via trade. And one potential trade target is Washington Nationals’ right-handed starting pitcher Tanner Roark.
The Nationals have an excess of starting pitchers. Due to this, the Nats could be looking to move a starting pitcher this offseason. And this is where Roark comes into play.
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Earlier this offseason, we looked at another Washington starting pitcher that could be a potential trade target. That target was left-handed pitcher Gio Gonzalez. You can read more about Gonzalez here.
Quietly, Tanner Roark has been a solid starting pitcher for the Nationals in recent years. The past four seasons Roark has pitched 573 1/3 innings in 119 games, 81 starts, and he owns a 3.01 ERA, 3.73 FIP, a 3.96 xFIP, and a 7.6 WAR. He has averaged just 2.34 BB/9, allowed just 51 home runs, and owns a 1.15 WHIP in these 573 1/3 innings pitched.
Sep 26, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Tanner Roark (57) throws to the Arizona Diamondbacks during the first inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
In 2013 and 2015 Roark pitched out of both the National bullpen and rotation. However, he spent the entirety of the 2014 and 2016 seasons in the rotation. He posted a career high 3.2 WAR in each of these two seasons.
During the 2016 season Roark pitched a career high 210 innings. In those 2010 innings pitched he averaged 7.37 K/9, 3.13 BB/9, 0.73 BB/9, and he had a WHIP of 1.17. His ERA was a sparkling 2.83, but his 3.79 FIP and 4.17 xFIP both indicate his is due for some regression in 2017. Additionally, his 48.7 percent ground ball rate was the second highest of his Major League career.
Tanner Roark also made a career high 33 starts in 2016. His 20.1 percent line drive was the lowest of his career. He also owned a 24.3 percent hard contact rate, which is below the league average for hard contact rate allowed.
Tanner Roark will never be confused with a number one or number two starting pitcher. However, the Pirates already have a pair of those in Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon. What this team dearly needs is a number three starting pitcher that can eat innings. And Tanner Roark very much so fits this mold.
While I do not like Roark as much as his teammate Gio Gonzalez, he can still be a strong addition to the Pirate rotation in 2017. The Pirates are two strong starting pitchers, and another bullpen power arm, away from being a postseason team in 2017. And Tanner Roark could be one of those two starting pitchers.