Game 135, Nationals at Mariners
Hisashi Iwakuma vs. Tanner Roark, 1:10pm
Wildcard Odds – Fangraphs.com: 37.6% Baseballprospectus.com: 31.4%
The M’s look to avoid a sweep behind Hisashi Iwakuma, but they’re facing yet another tough righty, sinkerballer Tanner Roark. Roark was cut by his college team, played a bit of independent league ball, where he posted an ERA over *20* but got signed by the Rangers anyway. After inconsistency and a trade to the Nats organization, he ditched his four-seamer for a two-seamer and re-discovered his confidence and command. After posting decent but nothing special walk rates in the minors, he’s been a strike throwing machine in the big league (though not quite as machine-like as Iwakuma).
His two-seamer comes in at 92mph, and he’ll throw a curve and change to lefties, and a slider to righties. Thanks in part to his curve ball, he’s excelled against lefties. He’s still got platoon splits, but lefties haven’t done as much damage as you’d expect against an average-velo righty who throws lots of sinkers/two-seamers. Against righties, though, he’s been dominant – a K:BB ratio of about 7, and a FIP in the low 2’s. Roark is essentially the Nationals’ version of Chris Young. There’s nothing eye-popping about him, and his overall FIP is good, but nothing all that special. But he’s been phenomenal at limiting runs. He’s now pitched 220 career innings for the Nats and his ERA is just 2.49. Sure, you can expect the strand rate to come down a bit, and maybe some of his success against lefties is BABIP related, but 1: he’s been doing this for over a full year and 2: he has room to regress and still be an extremely effective pitcher. The big key for him has been command – as Dave described, he seems to be able to put his fastball exactly where he wants it to go. C’mon M’s lefties. We need this.
1: Jackson, CF
2: Ackley, LF
3: Cano, 2B
4: Morales, 1B
5: Seager, 3B
6: Denorfia, DH
7: Chavez, RF
8: Zunino, C
9: Miller, SS
Not really sure why you’d bring in Denorfia to DH against a righty sinker/slider guy, but on the other hand, this is a good day for Miller to get a start.
Stephen Landazuri gets the start for Jackson today, his final start before heading to the Arizona Fall League. Lars Huijer starts for High Desert. No word on who the Rainiers will send up against Fresno tonight.