In a tight American League postseason race, the Oakland Athletics’ front office added something the team so desperately needed: experienced starting pitching.
The Oakland Athletics’ acquired right-handed starting pitcher Tanner Roark from the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday, just hours before the Trade Deadline came to a close. The 32-year-old from Illinois was enjoying moderate success in Cincinnati, where he posted a 6-7 record with a 4.24 ERA in 110.1 innings across 21 starts. Roark also added 108 strikeouts.
While some fans were hoping for a splashier move that saw Noah Syndergaard, Madison Bumgarner, or Zach Wheeler don the Green and Gold, the acquisition of Roark has Billy Beane’s fingerprints all over it.
Roark, who will be a free agent at the end of the season, provides a low-cost addition to a pitching staff that will hopefully add Sean Manaea, Jesus Luzardo, and AJ Puk to the ranks in the coming weeks.
While Syndergaard and Bumgarner would have warranted top-level prospect, and A’s were able to acquire Roark for outfielder Jameson Hannah, who was ranked as the No. 8 prospect in Oakland’s system, according to Mike Petriello of MLB.com. Hannah was slashing .283/.341/.381 in 92 games as a 21-year-old in High-A Stockton.
Roark spent six seasons in Washington before the Nats sent him to Cincinnati during the Winter Meetings. He popped onto the scene as a 26-year-old rookie who posted a 2.57 ERA in his first two seasons in the majors. In his more recent outings, Roark has proven to be a pitcher that works around trouble, owning a WHIP of 1.42 (Daniel Mengden’s WHIP, for comparison, is 1.41) while allowing three earned runs or less in 15 of his 21 starts this season.
While Roark can’t be labeled as a fly ball or ground ball pitcher, one thing he does decently well: keep the ball in the yard (Tweet via Kevin Fippin).
Now, 14 home runs is not an outrageously low number by any stretch, but Cincinnati is definitely a hitter’s park, so a transition to the large dimensions of the Coliseum should only bring continued success in that category for Roark.
Roark will join a rotation of Mike Fiers, Chris Bassitt, Brett Anderson, and Homer Bailey that hopes to push Oakland to the postseason for the second time in as many years.
If that group can go out and eat innings on a consistent basis – something that would help a bullpen that is still struggling to find consistency itself – then this move will be worth the price the team paid.
And, if Roark can regain the form that he showed earlier in his career… the Oakland Athletics stole this one.