Tanner Roark has been a revelation for the Nationals this season. The 27-year-old leads Washington starters in wins (11) and WHIP (1.08), is second in ERA (2.74), and has gone seven innings while allowing one run in four consecutive starts after Wednesday’s win in Miami.
Roark’s success dates back to his major league debut last August. His 2.39 ERA since July 30, 2013 is the fourth-best in baseball behind Clayton Kershaw, Johnny Cueto and Zack Greinke, yet few would label Roark a bona-fide ace at this stage in his career. Just don’t tell that to MLB Network analyst Eric Byrnes.
“This guy is a legitimate ace,” Byrnes said Wednesday on “MLB Tonight.”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa,” host Greg Amsinger replied.
“Ace,” Byrnes said. “Clayton Kershaw, Johnny Cueto, Zack Greinke, Adam Wainwright. TANNER ROARK. Do you understand that he is an ace?”
Amsinger suggested that Roark doesn’t have the track record to be considered an ace.
“What have you done for me lately?” Byrnes said. “That’s what I’m looking for. We’re all about the now, the present. And right now…”
“So you’re giving him the ball to start one game in the postseason?” Harold Reynolds interrupted.
“I’m giving the ball to TANNER ROARK,” Byrnes said.
“You’re giving the ball to Tanner Roark over Jordan Zimmermann, over Stephen Strasburg, over Gio Gonzalez, over Doug Fister,” Amsinger said.
“The Nationals are good, aren’t they?” Byrnes said. “Now that you just brought this up, you can legitimately give the ball to any one of those guys, but right now, if you just go on the cold-hard numbers…”
It’s worth noting that earlier in the show Byrnes said his “sources” told him Mets pitcher Matt Harvey, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery, threw 98 mph on flat ground. Also, he does stuff like this:
Fox Sports analayst C.J. Nitkowski weighed in on the subject of the Nationals’ hypothetical postseason rotation earlier this week. Nitkowski’s 1-5 if the playoffs started today? Fister, Zimmermann, Roark, Strasburg and Gonzalez. That’s quite a luxury to pitch an ace in Game 3.