On a warm September night, the Washington Nationals turned to starter-turned-reliever-turned-starter-again Tanner Roark to face off against the surprisingly hot Miami Marlins. Winners of four straight, the Nationals came into this game down 7.5 games in the NL East to the New York Metropolitans, with their chance of making the playoffs a whopping 1% according to Baseball Prospectus – so you’re saying there’s a chance! But the Nats (75-71) wasted away some of their precious few decimal points, falling to the Marlins (64-83), 6-4.
Tanner Roark Fizzles Quickly
After a short stint in Potomac, Roark has returned to the role vacated by the recently shut-down Joe Ross, a role in which Roark won 15 games back in 2014. The 3.49 ERA having 2014 starter has struggled to find the same performance in his nine starts thus far this season – the constant Ross Detwiler-style yo-yo between starting and relieving probably has something to do with that – as he has racked up a 5.66 ERA as a starter this season.
It was an inauspicious start last night to say the least, as the Fish’s table-setters went 6-11 against him with four singles and two home runs – scoring five of their six runs putting the game well out of reach. Roark will have a couple more starts this season to try and reestablish some of his lost value if he has any hopes of earning a spot in the 2016 rotation.
Williams Actually Wins a Challenge
Last season, manager Matt Williams was actually one of the most successful managers in all of baseball at using the new “managerial challenge” – finishing with the 4th best percentage (64% – 20 of 31) of all MLB teams. This year things have not been so rosy for the reigning NL Manager of the Year, coming into Thursday night’s game Williams has only managed to win 37% of his challenges (9 of 24).
There have been some doozies of calls that seem apparently clear to the admittedly biased Nats fans that have not gone the Nationals way according to the replay crew based in New York. Tonight was a rare win in a season of disappointments.
After Bryce Harper’s Texas League single to left “Bearded Wonder” Jayson Werth hit a hard single into right as Harper took a hard turn and headed towards third – it would take a perfect throw to get him out. Marcell Ozuna did just that and he unleashed a bullet one-hop throw that arrive a millisecond before Harper did as Martin Prado slapped the tag onto Harper’s left shoulder: out. Williams picked then to bust out his 25th challenge of the year and after a lengthy review New York had decreed that Harper was safe at third base! A rare challenge win that moved Williams’ challenge record to 10 of 25, moving him all the way up to sixth worst of all managers in 2015.
The victory was not to be as the home team began their last (and longest) homestand of the season with a 6-4 loss against the Marlins. After their bats looked lifeless throughout most of the game the Nationals came alive in the 8th inning and strung together three hits and two walks against three different pitchers tightening the gap to just two runs. Michel A. Taylor had a chance to bring the boys all the way back but it was not to be as Marlins closer AJ Ramos struck him out on just three pitches on his way to a four out save.
Friday night should be fun under the lights of Nationals Park, as Max Scherzer looks to build on his last start against the Marlins where he threw an absolute Rembrandt: 8 innings of scoreless ball just one week ago. He will be facing off against Marlins ace Jose Fernandez who has only had one start since coming back from a “right biceps injury” that kept him out for over a month – after only returning from Tommy John surgery in early July. With the Nationals playoff hopes on life-support enjoy the baseball that you have left and hopefully we will see some more appearances from players like Wilmer Difo and Trea Turner as they look to get comfortable at the major league level in advance of the 2016 season.