What to Watch for: 8.6.13

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Atlanta Braves (68-45) vs. Washington Nationals (54-58)

RHP Julio Teheran (8-5, 3.02) vs. LHP Gio Gonzalez (7-4, 3.57) 

Tanner Roark’s 2013 season started about as well as he could have ever expected. The 27-year-old right-hander fired six no-hit innings in his debut for the Syracuse Chiefs, walking two and striking out seven in a road win at Lehigh Valley.

From there, though, the Wilmington, Illinois native struggled, before finally settling in and finding his groove in early May pitching out of the bullpen.

Since then, he’s been nearly unhittable.

Beginning with a scoreless inning at Durham on May 6, Roark made 17 relief appearances, holding opponents scoreless in 16 of them. He moved back into the rotation, where he made eight starts, winning six of them. He has just one loss since mid-April, and since that outing in Durham he is 8-1 with a 1.55 ERA (14 ER/81.1 IP).

All of that led to Roark’s promotion to the Major Leagues on Tuesday, when he was selected from the Chiefs and joined the Nationals in D.C. Twice a double-digit game winner in the minors, this marks Roark’s first time on a big league roster after six Minor League seasons. Originally a 25th-round pick by the Rangers out of the University of Illinois, Roark was acquired by the Nationals along with fellow hurler Ryan Tatusko in exchange for Cristian Guzman back on July 31, 2010. He has pitched in the Washington system ever since, but made huge strides forward this year, easily his best as a professional.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Harper LF

2. Zimmerman 3B

3. Werth RF

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Desmond SS

6. Ramos C

7. Span CF

8. Rendon 2B

9. Gonzalez LHP

CATCH THIS

Wilson Ramos is batting .320 (24-for-75) with three doubles, five home runs and 18 RBI in 21 games since returning from a left hamstring injury (missed 48 games during two stints on the disabled list). Ramos’ .906 OPS since his return on July 4 ranks third among big league catchers in that month-plus span, trailing only Milwaukee’s Jonathan Lucroy (1.071) and Atlanta’s Brian McCann (.943).

JULIO ARE YOU

The Nationals have hit opposing starter Julio Teheran fairly well over the last couple of years, including seven players sporting .333 or better averages against him:

Bernadina: .333 (1-3)

Desmond: .444 (4-9)

Harper: .400 (2-5, BB, HR)

LaRoche: .333 (2-6, 3 BB)

Span: .667 (6-9)

Tracy: .667 (2-3)

Werth: .333 (2-6)

GIOLOGY

Gio Gonzalez faces the Braves for the first time since June 1, when he allowed a run on just three hits over seven frames while striking out seven in a no decision at Turner Field. Gonzalez has matched his career high with 11 strikeouts in each of his last two home starts. The lefty has fanned 72 batters in his last 62.0 innings (10.45 K/9 IP), spanning 10 starts.

1 Comment

The “Uncle Davy” Johnson episode continues towards the inevitable collapse of this season.
A season that should have started with a concentration of fundamentals in Spring Training but never was concentrated on. And now the yellow response to Bryce Harper being purposely hit by the Braves. Where is Frank Robinson when we need him so desperately need him.

Harold G. Pavel

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