Tanner Roark was in his Chicago hotel room the morning of Game 4 of the National League Division Series, a few hours before the game he was supposed to start with his team’s season on the line, when he heard analysts dissecting his preparedness for such a moment. Many players avoid the talking heads, particularly so close to game time, but Roark has never been one to ignore the doubts of others. When channeled correctly, they can fuel their subject. “It was [ticking] me off. I was going to use that as motivation,” Roark said Sunday at WinterFest. “But then I got to the field and it just didn’t work out that way.” Roark never got the chance to use that motivation. When he got to the field, Stephen Strasburg was starting, apparently well enough to do so after being announced as a stunning Game 4 scratch less than two hours earlier. Strasburg, of course, threw seven scoreless innings in one of the most dominant playoff pitching performances in Nationals history. “You can’t be mad about that,” Roark said with a laugh. Besides, in the aftermath of Game 4, Roark figured he might still have a chance to start Game 5. As it happened, then-manager Dusty Baker chose Gio Gonzalez to start that game instead, making clear that Roark would be available out of the bullpen if Gonzalez got in trouble. Not long into the game, Roark — who began it in the dugout — was told to head out to the bullpen just in case. They never used him, opting for Max Scherzer in relief instead, a move that made sense at the time, but nevertheless ensured that Roark, who had been poised to carry the Nationals’ season on his shoulders a day earlier, would not get his chance to pitch in October at all. “It was definitely disappointing,” Roark said. “I was not happy. But . . . we had Max ready to go. Gio was fresh and Gio had a hell of a year. So it is what it is.” Roark said Baker never provided an explanation for why he didn’t pitch, though in fairness, perhaps he felt that was obvious.
Nationals’ Tanner Roark on not pitching in the playoffs: ‘I wasn’t happy’
Washington Post | Dec 18