Now come on. You have to throw in the towel now right? You've been holding on to a silly fantasy, straining to hear an echo of the 2007 season when an up-and-coming Phillies team would take the NL East away from a Mets team a year away from collapsing. The Mets aren't quite the new Phillies, the Nats aren't quite the old Mets, but surely you can see how the roles aren't fitting. Clearly you can see the end of the road now. Do I need to link Boyz II Men? I don't do I?
Ok on to Tanner Roark. The guy some fans were upset at being pushed out of the rotation after a fantastic 2014 finds himself struggling when given the shot in 2015. You can't have watched his last few games and been confident about his presence in the rotation next year. Part of it is he's pitching worse. The Ks are down, the BBs are up and the balls are getting hit harder. But part of it is luck. He's on the high end for BABIP, the high end for HR/FB. The latter could give you hope that next year would be more like 2014.... except that in 2014 he was in the low end for those luck stats. In essence in two seasons we might have gotten the best and worst that Roark can offer a team right now. So split the difference. Can you live with a guy sporting an ERA around say 3.75? In the 5th spot? I think we can.
Of course that makes big assumptions. It assumes that Roark is not aging out of his prime (he'll be 29 next year) and that teams haven't figured him out a bit. The former we're probably ok on. Pitch velocity is a good indication of age taking control and his speed is fine, actually up from last year (which is not to say he's getting faster, it is to be expected given more short stints in relief). The latter... I don't know. He hasn't started many games so it could be an issue getting back into form. but he has done particularly poorly vs NL East opponents. His worst game was vs the Phillies, next worse vs the Marlins, 4th worst Marlins. That's kind of strange given how utterly incompetent the NL East has been offensively (we're not talking the post trade deadline Mets here) However, if you assume teams are figuring him out, it would be natural for NL East teams to be on the leading edge of that.
Roark and Ross has big shoes to fill for the Nats. Gio is slowly leaking air working his way down the rotation. Strasburg is good but you have to be worried about his health. That leaves the potential for Ross and Roark to need to be #2 and #3 esque pitchers. That is a tall order. To be more secure you could bring in another big-time pitcher (there are a few available in the off-season) and force Roark out. You might think that strange (didn't they just try that?) but the reality would be that Max and this other guy would be replacing ZNN and Strasburg and Giolito would be the 3rd gun. You could bring in a one-year type (A reviatlized JA Happ hoping to prove it wasn't a fluke? A desperate Jeff Samardzzjia looking to show he's worth a longer deal?) and push Roark down for depth purposes (Giolito is probably September at best). This was the plan used in 2012 (Edwin Jackson) and 2013 (Dan Haren). You could try to find another Fister like trade (Bucholz?). Or you could simply run with Roark and maybe grab someone as organizational depth
Roark's performances create a question where the Nats really didn't want one. Hopefully he can pull out a couple good starts to end the year.
Oh and a commenter is asking for food recommendations near the park in the thread from yesterday's post. If you got any - go help him out.