ST. PETERSBURG -- The Nationals are making a late bid for the second National League Wild Card spot, and Tanner Roark has been a big part of their surge. Roark is 7-0 with a 1.08 ERA in three starts and nine relief appearances since coming up from Triple-A Syracuse on Aug 6. He pitched seven scoreless innings in a 4-0 victory over the Braves on Tuesday.
Roark was originally drafted by the Rangers in the 25th round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He was not considered a top prospect when the Rangers traded him and pitcher Ryan Tatusko to the Nationals on July 30, 2010, for infielder Cristian Guzman. At the time, second baseman Ian Kinsler was on the disabled list and the Rangers needed Guzman to help plug the hole.
Roark was 10-5 with a 4.20 ERA in 22 games for Double-A Frisco at the time of the trade. He then had two undistinguished seasons in 2011-12, going 15-26 with a 4.52 ERA between Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Syracuse in the Nationals' system. Then Roark had a breakthrough season this year at Syracuse, going 9-3 with a 3.15 ERA.
"I watched him on TV the other day," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. "He's doing a nice job. He is a big body guy with a good sinker and throws a lot of strikes. He's certainly gotten better."
Guzman hit .152 with the Rangers, ended up on the disabled list with a strained quad muscle and was not on the postseason roster. He has never played again. Tatusko is still at Triple-A Syracuse.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.