As the Cincinnati Reds enter the offseason considering different options to fill the fifth starter, re-signing Tanner Roark is the answer.
Since the last out of the season, Reds fans have been anxiously awaiting answers to what the Cincinnati Reds would do in order to improve next year’s team into a playoff contender. A large focus of these discussions is what to do with about the back end of the starting rotation. With the front end of the starting rotation being solid, I believe Tanner Roark is the answer.
Reds Country is very familiar with Roark, as he was a solid starter for the team last season until the trade deadline, that found him traded to the Oakland Athletics. The reality was, during a time of uncertainty with the pitching staff, Roark was an average pitcher who could consistently perform.
Roark posted a 1.6 WAR during his time in Cincinnati, while maintaining an adjusted ERA of 4.18. These numbers suggest that, at-best, Roark should have been a bullpen arm, however, his consistency allowed him to play a key role in the rotation.
When considering the Reds rotation, fans can’t help but be excited at the possibilities of Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray, and Trevor Bauer as the first three starters. Anthony DeSclafani is currently holding the fourth spot in the rotation.
The options for the fifth starter are clear – continue to develop young pitchers in the bullpen and sign a veteran starting pitcher, or plug in an existing young pitcher, as the team did with Tyler Mahle last season, and allow them to take their lumps.
The Cincinnati Reds should consider investing in a safe, veteran starter to fill the role of fifth starer. However, once a young pitcher, such as Mahle, Lucas Sims or Tony Santillan, begins showing signs of being ready, the Reds could supplant the fifth starter and use that player as a key bullpen arm. Tanner Roark could easily fulfill this type of role for the Cincinnati Reds.
Thinking along those lines, eventually, Roark’s experience as a starer will allow him to come into games early and provide multiple innings of relief, or if need be, he can be a consistently average starter at the back end of a strong pitching rotation.
Reds fans should be excited at the possibility of adding a veteran arm with the flexibility of multiple roles within the pitching staff. According to Baseball Reference, Roark is projected to have an average year in 2020, posting 9 wins and 11 losses while maintaining a 4.56 ERA. At the right price, there is considerable value to signing Roark to meet the Reds various pitching needs.