Washington Nationals Reaction: Rare short start makes you appreciate Tanner Roark

Tanner Roark wasn’t perfect last night, but he’s been one of the most consistent and reliable starters on the Washington Nationals this season.

For the last few years, Tanner Roark has been one of the most underrated starters in the game. He’s been one of the Washington Nationals’ most stable and reliable pitchers since he burst onto the big league scene in 2013, and although he doesn’t have the flare and following of Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer, he’s been just as crucial to the team’s success this season.

In fact, Roark’s numbers this season are nearly identical to Scherzer’s, and he could arguably be at or near the top of most rotations in baseball:

Tanner Roark: 28 starts, 14-8, 2.89 ERA, 1.18 WHIP.

Max Scherzer: 28 starts, 15-7, 2.89 ERA, 0.91 WHIP.

One of the Roark’s most important assets is that he’s able to pitch deep into the game on a consistent basis. The right-hander has pitched into the seventh inning or later in 19 of his 28 starts this season, which has been a huge help for the Nationals’ oft-taxed bullpen.

Roark rarely gets attention when he goes out and throws seven innings, allows a couple of runs, strikes out a handful of batters and leads the Nationals to a win. Given his mostly under-the-radar success, fans and pundits are often surprised when he has even a slight hiccup. For this reason, last night’s rocky start from Roark — which was by no means terrible — was strange.

The right-hander picked up his eighth loss of the season and only pitched five innings. He was unusually inefficient, walking four batters and needing 96 pitch to get through five innings.

Of course, Roark only allowed two runs, and had his offense not gone 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position, he probably could’ve come away with a win.

The fact that a game in which he allowed two runs over five innings might be considered “rocky”  just goes to show how reliable Roark has been this season and how valuable he is for the Nationals. Roark still has a few more starts this season and he’ll likely play a key role in the playoffs.

Hopefully for the Nationals, the best is yet to come for the right-hander.

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