The Cincinnati Reds front office made a lot of big moves this offseason to make necessary improvements to their team. It’s possible that trading for right-handed pitcher Tanner Roark is the most overlooked newcomer on the team.
Acquiring Tanner Roark from the Washington Nationals was the first big pitching move made by the Cincinnati Reds front office this offseason. However, it quickly became overshadowed by the blockbuster deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers that brought us Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, and Alex Wood. But lets not overlook what Roark can bring to the team.
Last season with the Nationals, Roark appeared in 31 games with a 4.34 earned run average. Those numbers actually put him just below potential ace Luis Castillo, who had a 4.30 ERA over 31 games. Roark threw 180.1 innings with 146 strikeouts and allowing 24 home runs.
Tanner Roark had a 3.61 ERA away from Nationals Park last year with batters hitting only .251 against him. It’s very possible, with his tendency to keep the ball on the ground and success away from Nationals Park, spending half of his season at Great American Ballpark will be good for him.
Roark made his spring debut in a Cincinnati Reds uniform on February 23rd against the Cleveland Indians in place of the injured Sonny Gray. Acquired from the New York Yankees this offseason, Gray reportedly experienced some elbow stiffness in his spring training workouts.
Since it was only the first game of spring training, Roark and several of the other Reds pitchers only worked one inning each. The game may have ended in a tie, but Roark did his part and delivered a perfect inning.
Facing only three batters with one strikeout, one pop out, and one ground out. Roark finished the inning allowing no hits and no runs while throwing only 6 pitches. Obviously there is a lot more to come before we reach Opening Day, but Roark’s first start gives promise as the team delves deeper into spring ball.
A strength that Roark definitely possesses is his durability and the ability to go deep into games. Last season, Roark averaged better than 6 innings pitched per game, but there were more than a few times he went 7 or more innings.
One of the biggest problems the Cincinnati Reds had last season was getting a quality start. All of the Reds starting pitchers last season only went about 5 innings into the game on average, which meant a lot of innings pitched by the bullpen. So, it’s fair to say that the ability for Roark to go 6 or more innings will be a big help this season.
Roark is not, and was never expected to be, the ace pitcher of this staff. At best, he is a good fit for the middle of the rotation. It’s also more than likely that Tanner Roark is in Cincy for just this one season, but there is a lot that Roark is brings to the table. He has experience and a new energy that the Cincinnati Reds pitching staff has desperately needed for quite some time.