Sunday, May 31, 2015
1:10 PM EDT
Michael Lorenzen vs. Tanner Roark
Following almost two weeks in free fall, the Reds are on the verge of sweeping the NL East leading Washington Nationals on Sunday. If they are able to accomplish this, it will only be the latest in a drama filled weekend between two teams that do not appear to like each other very much. This notwithstanding, the Reds will start the intensely likable Michael Lorenzen against the annoyingly-named Tanner Roark. Seriously, though, say "Tanner Roark" out loud and not have the urge to punch something (or say "I HARDLY KNOW HER"). I dare you.
After winning 15 games for Washington in 2014, Roark has been used predominately as a bullpen pitcher in 2015. However, his first start of the season this past Monday (5.0 innings, 1ER) demonstrated that he hasn't missed a beat from last year's campaign that resulted in a 2.85 ERA and 1.092 WHIP in 198.2 innings. Depending on the severity of Steven Strasburg's injury, Roark may regain his rotation spot for a significant amount of time with similar performances.
In addition to Roark's success both in and out of the bullpen, he also has pitched well against several Reds in relatively small sample sizes. A former divisional opponent, Marlon Byrd has 1 hit and 5 strikeouts against Roark in 8 plate appearances. Brandon Phillips is 2 for 3 lifetime against Roark with 1 RBI while Brayan Pena is 2 for 6. In 45 plate appearances against the Reds, Roark has only given up 1 extra base hit, which was at the hands of Zack Cozart. Note: Roark has never faced Joey Votto.
Michael Lorenzen will make his seventh career start and his first against Washington this afternoon. Lorenzen broke the Reds losing streak this past Monday where he went 7 innings allowing only one earned run while striking out three. While Lorenzen has not struck out too many batters in 2015 (14), he still has a positive K-BB ratio of 1.08. Even if Lorenzen's success is due in part to other teams not yet figuring him out, he should hopefully continue his past success due to today's first impressions from the Nationals.
A sweep of the Nationals on Sunday will not only mark the first Sunday win of 2015 for the Reds, but will also allow them to regain ground from their disastrous mid-May. While it may be too late for them to do anything about the injuries to Homer Bailey, Devin Mesoraco, and Bryan Price's respectability, it's not too late for them to catch up to the non-Cardinals in the NL Central.