Blue Jays: Roark hasn’t pitched well enough to complain about innings
He has been a workhorse over his career, but Tanner Roark’s performance this season doesn’t give him much of leg to stand on in his battle to pitch deeper into games.
I love seeing players show their fire on the field. It not only proves they care, but it displays a winning attitude. With that being said, there comes a point where that fire and that passion needs to be backed up by production between the lines.
Tanner Roark has been vocal about his desire to pitch deeper into games and personally, I’m glad he wants to eat more innings. The Blue Jays have lacked length out of their rotation all year, with the exception of Hyun Jin Ryu, but Roark can’t just be willing to throw more pitches, he needs to give the Jays quality innings.
Keyword there: quality. Roark can eat innings, but the quality of those innings are miserably low this year. He has pitched just over 39 innings this season in nine starts, an average of roughly 4.1 per outing. Obviously not the kind of inning totals he was expecting when he signed a two-year deal with Toronto, but innings aren’t just given out, they have to be earned. Roark has been given every opportunity to earn his innings, unfortunately, he hasn’t pitched well enough to face any lineup for the third time. In his nine outings this season he has put up career lows in ERA (6.41), WHIP (1.754), HR/9 (3.2), H/9 (11.0) and BB/9 (4.81).
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I know it’s a small sample size in a shortened season, but those numbers are atrocious regardless of the number of games he’s pitched. Roark claims he needs to pitch deeper into games in order for “the true grit” to come out, unfortunately in a 60-game season, the Jays can’t afford to lose games waiting for him to figure it out. This season is a sprint as we all know, and the Jays need to ride the hot hand, regardless of what players like Roark have done in years past.
“I know that if this was a 162-game season and we made playoffs, come August, we can’t have the relievers being exhausted. We’ve got to let us go, no matter if we give up seven, to eat up innings. That’s our job.” No. Your job is to pitch to the best of your ability in the innings you are given, not to complain about the computers taking you out of the game. He’s not wrong about the difference between this season and a regular one, but he’s making the case that he should be pitching more innings this season, which given his numbers, would not help the Jays win more games.
The Jays pitching ranks 16th among the rest of the league in ERA at 4.61 prior to last night’s game, substantially lower than Roark’s ERA. So while the Jays are an average team in terms of giving up runs, Roark has been far below average even on a team that hasn’t thrown the ball exceptionally well. In terms of wanting to face lineups a third time through, its simply a recipe for disaster, not just for Roark but the entire pitching staff. Roark himself hasn’t been much worse facing lineups for the third time, but the Jays pitchers as a whole have been brutal.
Opposing hitters are hitting .349 against the Jays the third time through the lineup, which is the worst in the league and a big reason Montoyo has gone to the pen early. The bullpen has contributed to the Jays woes giving up late-inning runs, but at least Montoyo is giving the opposing lineup a different look the third time through. Ultimately this is not a Tanner Roark problem, it’s a Blue Jays problem.
The Jays need to do a better job of limiting damage late in games, but I can say with confidence that Tanner Roark is not the solution to this problem. The reality is he hasn’t pitched well enough to earn high leverage innings, quite frankly he hasn’t pitched well enough to be on the Blue Jays postseason roster. Let’s hope he can turn it around for the next two weeks, but let’s not hold our breath.