Williams on Roark's role and who will pinch-run in NLDS

Manager Matt Williams spoke with the media prior to the National League Division series opener Friday at Nationals Park.

Williams confirmed that right-hander Tanner Roark will come out of the bullpen in the series. Williams was asked if he planned this 25-man roster with specialists in mind or preferred long men coming out of the pen.

"With the days off, especially the first round with the days off, you have those options," Williams said. "Nobody is ever going to have to go three days in a row. That's part of the construction process. But we want to make sure we construct it in a way that serves our team the best. So we have options right-handed and we have options left-handed. With regard to the long guy, Tanner is available. He's as long as you could possibly get. Those are the reasons for those decisions."

roark-pitching-white-sidebar.jpgRoark made 31 starts for the Nationals and won a career-high 15 games, finishing the regular season with a 2.85 ERA. Will Roark have trouble coming into games with men on base versus starting an inning?

"He'll be fine. He's done it all year long," Williams said of Roark battling through high-leverage moments. "He's been in situations where he's had guys out there. He's been in a bases-loaded situation. From a starting perspective anyway, I'm comfortable with it. He doesn't get too high or too low in any stretch. If he comes into a game he's simply there to throw the ball where he wants to throw it and get outs. For him a situation doesn't matter."

Williams also said Roark could pitch in more than one inning if they needed him to. He also could be placed in a specialty role.

"We could use him for one hitter if we wanted to," Williams said. "He does have numbers. The good thing about starting all year (is) he has developed some history against a lot of guys. So we do have those numbers. He's available to do that if we need it. Again, we have to get to the game and find out how it goes and make the adjustments accordingly. But, yeah, he's available in all those different situations."

Some argued for the team to add speed guys like Michael A. Taylor or Jeff Kobernus to the postseason roster, especially after watching the Royals steal seven bases in a 9-8 12-inning win over the Athletics. Williams said the Nats believe they have pinch-runners on the bench like Nate Schierholtz and Danny Espinosa who can get the job done.

"They both have good speed," Williams said. "They both have good speed, they both have the ability to steal a base. Again, the pinch-running situations often times are dictated by where you're at in the game. So we'll have to adjust to that as we get through and as we're trying to do things we can to win. Both those guys have that capability, for sure."

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