With right-hander Joe Ross scheduled to undergo Tommy John ligament replacement surgery Wednesday in Texas, the rotation could use a boost. Lefty Gio Gonzalez and righty Max Scherzer have thrown 14 1/3 scoreless innings in the first two games of this four-game series against the Reds. Now it’s Roark’s turn.
There are reasons to be optimistic that Roark can right a frustrating season with a strong second half. The right-hander has historically strong second-half numbers, posting a career 22-13 record and 2.71 ERA after the break, in contrast to a 26-21 mark and 3.81 ERA before it. And he’s showed some signs of a turnaround after claiming that he felt he was getting close to figuring things out: In his last outing on July 8, Roark relieved Stephen Strasburg and turned in five innings of decent relief, allowing three runs on four hits with no walks and two strikeouts. It wasn’t a shutdown effort, but definitely a step in the right direction.
In six career starts versus the Reds, Roark is 1-2 with a 4.37 ERA, and he’s 1-0 with a 4.50 ERA in three lifetime starts at Great American Ball Park. Having given up 13 homers in 100 1/3 innings this season after yielding 17 longballs in 210 innings last year, Roark will have to be careful on the shores of the muddy Ohio River.
Current Reds slash .291/.322/.360 against Roark. Tucker Barnhart is 5-for-10, Eugenio Suárez is 3-for-5 and Adam Duvall is 4-for-7. Only Scooter Gennett has homered off Roark, part of a 5-for-15 line off the righty. Roark has done a good job against both Billy Hamilton (2-for-14) and Zack Cozart (1-for-12).
The Reds send righty Homer Bailey to the mound, and he’ll look to improve on a 2-2 record and 8.31 ERA in four starts. Bailey’s season was delayed by February elbow surgery. He made his 2017 debut at Washington on June 24 and lasted 1 2/3 innings, getting touched for eight runs on six hits with three walks and two strikeouts. But he’s improved his length in each of his outings and went 6 2/3 innings in his last start, a win over the Diamondbacks on June 9.
Scoring change: Upon review from the official scorer, Chris Heisey has been credited with a hit in the eighth inning of Saturday’s game. His hot shot that handcuffed third baseman Eugenio Suárez was originally ruled an error.
WASHINGTON NATIONALS at CINCINNATI REDS
Where: Great American Ball Park
Gametime: 1:10 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN2, MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 FM, XM Internet 869, MLB.com
Weather: Partly sunny, 80 degrees, wind 4 mph toward left-center field
CF Brian Goodwin
SS Wilmer Difo
RF Bryce Harper
2B Daniel Murphy
3B Anthony Rendon
1B Adam Lind
LF Chris Heisey
C Jose Lobaton
RHP Tanner Roark
CF Billy Hamilton
RF Jesse Winker
1B Joey Votto
LF Adam Duvall
2B Scooter Gennett
3B Eugenio Suárez
SS José Peraza
C Tucker Barnhart
RHP Homer Bailey