Coming off a complete game shutout on April 26 against the San Diego Padres, Tanner Roark thrust himself into the spotlight and into what looks like the permanent starting rotation for the Washington Nationals. But it wasn’t all such a bright future for the 27 year old right hander.
Born on October 5, 1986 in Wilmington, Illinois, Tanner’s sports career started when he played one season with the Southern Illinois Miners of the independent Frontier League for the 2008 season. To say the least he struggled, in just three games he pitched 9 2/3 innings while giving up 23 hits as well as 25 runs, which comes to an astounding ERA of 21.41.
Even with his dreadful start for the Miners he would be drafted in the 25th round of the 2008 Amateur Player Draft by the Texas Rangers. Then in July 2010 he was traded to the Nationals for Cristian Guzman, Guzman was traded due to the arrival of the now starting shortstop Ian Desmond.
It did not get much better for Roark in 2011 when he started 26 games and posted a shocking 6-17 record for the Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs. He stayed at the Triple-A level for the start of the 2012 season but then with the continue struggles he was moved to the bullpen for 20 relief appearances, used mainly as the long reliever. Then due to an injury to another starting pitcher Roark was moved back to the rotation at the start of the 2013 season and had the best stretch of his career in which he only allowed 12 earned runs over 48 2/3 inning which came to be a ERA of 4.05 in 8 starts.
Then on August 6, 2013, Roark was called up to the Nationals and he started his rise to the Nationals Rotation. With his initial promotion to the Nationals putting him in the bullpen, nine games into his Major League career and posting an ERA of 1.19 in 22 2/3 innings he was promoted to the rotation and made his first start on September 7th against the Miami Marlins in which he pitched six innings and allowed zero runs. He then would go on to finish the season with an ERA of 1.08 in 41 2/3 innings for the Nationals.
Roark was able to earn a starting rotation spot for the beginning of the 2014 season and in 5 starts is 2-0 with an ERA of 2.76, best in the Nationals rotation. Roark rise to where he is now was capped off in his last start in which he carried a perfect game into the sixth and finish the gone with a complete game shutout.
The rise of Tanner Roark is one of the most important pieces to the Washington Nationals success in them creating the best starting rotation in baseball. While Tanner Roark may not be the strikeout kings that fellow rotation mates Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez are there is one thing he excels at and that is just getting people out.