What to Watch for: 9.7.13

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Washington Nationals (71-69) vs. Miami Marlins (53-86)

RHP Tanner Roark (4-0, 1.19) vs. RHP Nathan Eovaldi (3-5, 3.40) 

Tanner Roark has found himself in the right place at the right time often in his first stint in the big leagues. He collected four wins in his first six appearances, all out of the bullpen. Of course, that isn’t to say he hasn’t earned the victories. The right-hander had allowed just three earned runs in 22.2 innings of work over nine outings, striking out 19 while walking just seven over that span. All of that led Davey Johnson to hand Roark the ball for his first big league start tonight in Miami.

In addition to his effectiveness, one other piece of statistical information stands out about Roark. He has needed just 313 pitches to record his first 68 outs as a Major Leaguer, a rate of 13.81 pitches per inning. The Major League leader among qualifying starters in that department in Cincinnati’s Bronson Arroyo at 14.13 P/IP, with Jordan Zimmermann leading Nationals starters at 14.54, seventh-lowest in the majors. Even with something around an 80-pitch limit tonight, if Roark can continue his efficient ways, he may still be able to give the Nationals five or six innings of work.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Denard Span CF

2. Ryan Zimmerman 3B

3. Bryce Harper LF

4. Jayson Werth RF

5. Ian Desmond SS

6. Adam LaRoche 1B

7. Wilson Ramos C

8. Anthony Rendon 2B

9. Tanner Roark RHP

ATTENTION: SPAN

Denard Span has hit safely in a career-high 17 straight games at a .406 (28-for-69) clip with five walks, three doubles, 2 triples, a homer, 11 runs scored and 5 RBI. Span’s surge has raised his batting average from .258 to .278. The leadoff man’s 17 game streak is the longest active streak in MLB and the longest by a National this season.

20-20 VISION

Ian Desmond – via his 20-homer, 18-stolen bag effort so far – is on the cusp of posting the third 20-homer, 20-stolen base season by a National. Washington’s previous two 20-20 campaigns came from Desmond himself (25 HR, 21 SB) in ‘12 and Alfonso Soriano (46 HR, 41 SB) in ‘06.

SECOND HARVEST

A quick look at the Nationals’ 3 farm clubs taking part in the MiLB Postseason:

• Harrisburg (AA) - Lead series vs. Erie (DET), 2-1 – Best-of-five series resumes tonight in Harrisburg.

• Potomac (A) - Swept Lynchburg (ATL), 2-0 – Will face Salem (BOS) for the Mills Cup Championship, starting Saturday night at Pfitzner Stadium.

• Hagerstown (A) - Series vs. West Virginia (PIT), tied at 1-1 – Best-of-three series concludes tonight in Hagerstown.

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