Between the impending shutdown of Taylor Jordan and the injuries to the Rosses (Ohlendorf and Detwiler), a callup of a minor-league pitcher was expected this week — preferably a starter or long reliever.
However, it’s not Nathan Karns, but Tanner Roark.
Roark’s contract was purchased this afternoon as Detwiler was transferred from the 15-day to the 60-day DL and Xavier Cedeno was optioned back to Syracuse. It’s the third time this season that a player has been added to the 40-man without a waiver claim (Taylor, Jeff Kobernus) as Nationals GM Mike Rizzo has proven extremely reluctant to add players during his tenure.
Roark is famously known as one of the “Guz Two,” acquired along with Ryan Tatusko from the Texas Rangers at the July 2010 trading deadline. He’s been workhorse ever since, making 27 starts for Harrisburg in 2010 and 2011, and 26 starts last summer for Syracuse, totaling 300+ innings over that timeframe.
This year, the 26-year-old has been used both as a reliever and as a starter, exiting the Chiefs rotation in late April with the ill-fated Chris Young experiment, and re-entering two months later when a spate of rainouts and ineffectiveness from other Syracuse starters forced the switch.
Since returning to the rotation on June 23, Roark has gone 6-0 with an ERA of 2.15 and a WHIP of 0.89 over 50⅓ innings.
Roark features the classic arsenal of fastball, curve and change. In relief, he can hit the mid-90s but tends to work in the low-90s as a starter. He’s always been a control pitcher, but in 2013 has dropped his BB/9 rate from 2.9 to a Milonesque 1.7. While not a strikeout pitcher per se, he’s averaged around seven per nine innings the past four seasons after starting his career with two seasons of 10+ per nine innings.