Age on Opening Day 2016: 29
How acquired: Trade with RHP Ryan Tatusko from Rangers for SS Cristian Guzman, July 2010
MLB service time: 2 year, 55 days
2015 salary+bonuses: $529,600
Contract status: Under team control in 2016, arbitration-eligible in 2017, free agent in 2020
2015 stats: 40 G, 12 GS, 111 IP, 119 H, 55 R, 54 ER, 17 HR, 26 BB, 70 K, 1.306 WHIP, 4-7, 4.38 ERA, 4.70 FIP, 0.7 WAR
Quotable: "I know I have the stuff. It's just one of those wild years, coming out of the bullpen and spot starting. It's been a roller coaster, but it's definitely a learning, big mental part of what makes me who I am today." — Tanner Roark
2015 analysis: Based on what he did in 2014 (going 15-10 with a 2.85 ERA), Tanner Roark had every reason to believe he'd be right back in the Nationals rotation in 2015, trying to duplicate or even surpass those numbers. But when the club shocked everyone by signing Max Scherzer to a $210 million contract, Roark became the odd man out, left to pitch out of the bullpen to begin the season, with perhaps an opportunity to start at some point if a spot opened up.
The undefined, ever-changing role wound up haunting Roark all season. At times, he was the long man in the bullpen. At times, he was a 1-inning setup man. And at times, he was a starter again. Throughout it all, the right-hander never fully found a groove.
Among Roark's biggest problems: A penchant for giving up home runs. Opponents hit 17 of them in only 111 innings of work. The previous year, he surrendered only 16 homers in 198 2/3 innings.
2016 outlook: Club officials acknowledged at season's end that Roark would be best served in one consistent role next year. The question is whether he'll be guaranteed a starting job or not. At worst, Roark figures to be given a fair shot at winning a spot in the rotation next spring, and he would probably have the leg up on others given his experience.
Wherever he pitches, Roark will have to get back to what worked so well for him in 2014: Command and movement. Too often this season he tried to overpower hitters, recognizing he could jack up his fastball to 95 mph while pitching in shorter spurts out of the bullpen. Increased velocity, though, didn't produce better results, and Roark admitted he is more effective when he takes a bit off his fastball (throwing it more in the 90-92 mph range) and relying on pinpoint command and good movement on his 2-seamer.
If he can rediscover himself in that regard, Roark can once again be a quality starting pitcher for the Nationals.