All eyes were on Blue Jays right-handed pitcher Tanner Roark, as he made his 2021 season start against the Texas Rangers on Tuesday night at Global Life Field. Fans weren’t exactly excited to see him start… to say the least. In fact, everyone seemed to be dreading his appearance, expecting many runs to be given up by Roark. And, they were not wrong.
Coming into this game, Tanner finished the 2020 season with a 6.80 ERA, a record of 2-3 and allowed 14 home runs in 47.2 innings. The Jays signed him in December of 2019 to a $24 million, two-year contract.
Roark’s troubles began in the first inning, after giving up a 2-run home run to first baseman Nate Lowe on a line drive to left centre field. The bottom of the second inning then saw Tanner give up a home run to Ronald Guzman on a fly ball to right field, making the score then 3-1 for Texas.
In his final appearance of the night, Roark gave up another 2-run home run to Lowe again, on a line drive to centre field, making it 5-1 for Texas, ending his night and was then replaced by Tommy Milone in the fourth inning. The Jays ended up losing the game 7-4 with Roark giving up five total runs to the Texas Rangers.
Roark knew it wasn’t a good night for him, saying to Sportsnet reporter Shi Davidi:
“Not a good outing. Not a good first start of the season overall. Just all over the place, getting behind guys. I threw three innings as a starter. That’s it. It’s not good. Gave up five runs. So not very good with anything.”
Manager Charlie Montoyo, ever the optimist, thinks that this disappointing start to the season for Roark won’t be a defining moment for him for the rest of the year, saying to Davidi at the post-game zoom call last night:
“That could affect people, but Tanner has been around. There’s a reason why he’s pitched in the big-leagues for so long. “I don’t think that’s going to affect him. But he knows that today he just didn’t have it. He couldn’t command his pitches and you pay the price.”
With a $12 million salary owed to Tanner this year, here’s hoping the Jays will be able to get more out of Roark than just lowered expectations and runs given up. It is still early on in the season, so there is plenty of time for him to step up and provide some decent innings at least. Otherwise, the Jays may be forced to make some difficult decisions, especially once Nate Pearson and Robbie Ray are healthy and back in the rotation.