Tanner Roark has been impressive this spring for the Cincinnati Reds. Could the right-hander follow a path similar to Bronson Arroyo when he arrived in the Queen City?
Tanner Roark was acquired on the final day of the Winter Meetings from the Washington Nationals in exchange for Tanner Rainey. At the time it looked like desperate attempt during the close of the Winter Meetings to show fans that the Cincinnati Reds were trying to upgrade the starting rotation. So far, Roark has been lights out for the Reds.
The Cincinnati Reds continued Cactus League play last night against the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Reds gave up 8 runs in the 8th inning, but Tanner Roark had long since been relieved of his duty as the team’s starter. Roark dominated the Dodgers for 5 innings.
In 5 innings of work, Roark allowed only one hit and struck out eight batters. Not a single run was scratched across the board on the right-hander’s watch. Only Brad Miller, who singled in the top of the second inning, was able to get on base against Roark. A ground ball to short quickly shut down any hope the Dodgers had of scoring and the base runner was erased.
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This was the second consecutive fantastic outing by Tanner Roark. He toed the rubber in a matchup against the Arizona Diamondbacks on March 10th and was flawless through the first three innings. However, a leadoff walk and a one-out single in the 4th inning gave way to a three-run bomb off the bat of Caleb Joseph.
That was just the second home run that Roark had given up this spring. Through 14.1 innings, Roark has 19 strikeouts, only 2 walks, and an ERA of 2.51. Yes, it’s only Spring Training, but for a team that was void of any semblance of a frontline starter last season, seeing Roark successful early on has to be good news for the Cincinnati Reds.
There’s been much debate over who will take the mound for the Reds first game against the Pirates in less than two weeks. While Sonny Gray is likely the favorite to take bump on Opening Day, don’t forget about Roark who’s quietly put together a very nice spring campaign.
I’m hopeful that Roark’s path to the Cincinnati Reds mimics that of Bronson Arroyo. Arroyo was traded to the Reds in 2006 in exchange for Wily Mo Pena. Arroyo went on to have, perhaps, the best season of his career during his first year in the Queen City. Arroyo would sign an extension the following season and be a fixture of the franchise for years to come.
Tanner Roark has a similar makeup to Arroyo in that he’s a durable hurler who can eat innings. During Arroyo’s career with the Reds, he tossed less than 200 innings only one time. Tanner Roark has gone over 180 innings in four of his first five seasons.
In 126 games, Bronson Arroyo owned a 4.59 ERA in his first several seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Boston Red Sox. In 182 games with the Nationals, Roark’s ERA was 3.59.
Can Tanner Roark experience the same type of success that Bronson Arroyo did with the Cincinnati Reds? Time will tell, but if his spring is indicative of how well he’ll perform when the games really count, Reds fans will be very happy.