Miami Sports Day

MLB: Washington Nationals Turn to Roark to Tame Miami Marlins

Marlins first baseman Tyler Moore is a big fan of Tanner Roark, who will get the start for the Washington Nationals against Miami on Wednesday at Nationals Park.

Moore was a backup first baseman/outfielder for the Nationals when Roark made his big league debut in 2013.

The right-hander was 7-1 with a 1.51 ERA that season in 14 games, with five starts. Roark then won 15 games as a starter in 2014 and last season was 16-10 with a 2.83 ERA in 34 games, with 33 starts.

“Tanner is all about makeup,” said Moore, standing at his locker in the Marlins clubhouse. “His stuff is good. He goes after guys.”

The new catcher for the Nationals is Matt Wieters, who came over from the Baltimore Orioles as a free agent during spring training. Roark was part of Team USA that won a gold medal last month in the World Baseball Classic.

“I think Tanner is a big makeup guy,” Wieters said. “He is going to go out there and compete with whatever stuff he has that day. He is very self-aware of what he is working with that day and what he has to do to get hitters out.”

The Marlins, after losing 4-2 on Opening Day on Monday in Washington, will send right-hander Dan Straily to the mound Wednesday night against the Nationals.

He was 10-11 with a 5.37 ERA in 34 starts last season for the Cincinnati Reds then was acquired in a four-player trade on Jan. 19, 2017 by the Marlins.

Straily has made two starts in his career against the Nationals and is 0-0 with a 3.21 ERA, allowing just four hits in 14 innings but giving up five runs and five walks with seven strikeouts.

Miami, of course, needs more pitching depth after the tragic death of All-Star right-hander Jose Fernandez last September in a boating accident in Florida.

The Marlins do not have a lefty in the bullpen and all four runs by Washington came off the bats of lefties, with homers from Bryce Harper and Adam Lind on Monday.

“Obviously, you’d like to be set up if you had a couple of them, honestly,” manager Don Mattingly of the Marlins said.

“But I think we’re just not set up like that. And I’ve seen other teams do without it. Some pretty good left-handed hitters over there. We got some of them out. And then a couple of them got us.”

Harper hit his fifth career Opening Day homer off right-hander David Phelps, who Mattingly figures to keep using in key situations.

“Just trying to make some stuff happen,” said Harper, who hit eight homers this spring. “We had opportunities in the first five innings to really get stuff going and get it done.”

One of the Washington players who has homered off Straily is third baseman Anthony Rendon, who missed the opener Monday with a sore calf.

“He could have played. I thought it would be best if he didn’t,” said Washington manager Dusty Baker.
With an off day Tuesday, Rendon could be in the lineup Wednesday.

Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon is hitting .429 against Roark and outfielder Giancarlo Stanton has four homers in 25 at-bats against him. Roark has fared well against Marlins first baseman Justin Bour, who grew up in Northern Virginia and went to George Mason University.

Bour is hitting .182 in 22 at-bats against Roark

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