Last Sunday in Toronto, Roark allowed four runs on eight hits over four innings. Tonight back in D.C., Roark (3-8) surrendered six runs, the most he has allowed in one game this season, over 4 1/3 innings, with seven hits, four walks and seven strikeouts.
“I think it’s just a small, little mechanical thing that I’m going through right now, and I sometimes overthink it,” Roark said. “I was watching film there for the rest of the game. I was looking at myself from ‘16. It’s always minor things or something with timing. I just looked at it and kind of compared from ‘16 to this year.”
Roark went 16-10 with a career-best 2.83 ERA over 33 starts in 2016. So that is video he looks back at when things are not going as well.
Roark was particularly disappointed that he was unable to finish the fifth inning and give the bullpen something to work with. The Phillies started off the fifth with a double by Rhys Hoskins and two batters later Carlos Santana walked. With two men on, Nick Williams and Scott Kingery singled. That closed the book on Roark and manager Davey Martinez went to Tim Collins in relief.
Roark threw 97 pitches over four innings last Sunday and tonight had to throw 113 pitches to get through 4 1/3.
In Toronto it was the 37-pitch third inning. Tonight it was two hits and walk in the first and third frames, then three more hits in the fifth.
“I’m just not getting quick innings,” he said. “The last two starts, I’ve left the bullpen out to dry, and I’m not happy about it. Again tonight I did the same thing with the bullpen. I left them out to dry. Just overall a bad start again. But I’ve got to stay optimistic. I found something in there. So you’ve got to take a positive out of a negative all the time.”
Martinez had Collins up early in the fifth when Roark started to labor and allow base runners. But Roark ended up pitching to five batters in the frame.
“We really tried to get him through that fifth inning,” Martinez said. “Granted, it didn’t go well but he got us through and he threw a bunch of pitches and I didn’t want him to throw more pitches so it was a rough day.”
So with these taxing innings and less than ideal starts, could there be something physically causing fatigue for Roark right now? Martinez didn’t see it.
“No, he says he feels fine, Martinez said. “Today it just didn’t look like he was attacking the strike zone. He threw a lot more breaking pitches and didn’t use his fastball enough. When you fall behind some of these hitters, they’re pretty good. You’re going to get hit pretty good.”
“Curveball was good tonight,” Roark said. “That was about the only thing. But it’s more of a timing thing. Once I get timing with every single pitch and it comes out the exact same way, looking exactly like a fastball, it’ll be tougher for the hitters.”
He pointed to one small mechanical tweak he needs to make so that he can start to fool the hitters again. Roark believes it’s a mental issue that he needs to focus on correcting to make sure it doesn’t mess up everything else he is trying to accomplish.
“(M)ost of the time it’s something very small that you can turn into something way bigger, and then it grows from there,” Roark said. “And you keep thinking about it and how to change it, and it keeps growing and growing, when it’s just something small.”