Roark to start Nats' home opener vs. Conley, Marlins
At this time last year, Tanner Roark was the odd man out of the Nationals' rotation, relegated to the bullpen after the team signed Max Scherzer in the offseason. Roark ended up shuttling between the bullpen and rotation for much of 2015, and he admitted at the start of this spring that the uncertainty of his role led to a 4.38 ERA, nearly a run and a half higher than his ERA from the previous year. So Roark entered this season intent on winning a job in the rotation.
Now Roark is not only a firm member of the Nats' five-man staff, but he is set to start the home opener Thursday against the Marlins at Nationals Park.
"He wants it," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. "This guy, he told me when I talked to him in Spring Training, he wants to start. And I told him, 'Hey man, if that's what you want, that's what you go for.' ... I like that attitude."
Opposing him will be Marlins left-hander Adam Conley, who posted a 3.76 ERA in 67 innings during his rookie season last year. He entered Spring Training "like he was on a mission," according to Marlins manager Don Mattingly, and won a spot in Miami's rotation because of it.
"To be quite honest with you," Mattingly said, "I'm looking forward to watching him pitch."
Things to know about this game: • Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton has enjoyed success playing at Nationals Park. In fact, of all the parks he's played in during his career -- besides his home games in Miami (first at Sun Life Stadium and now Marlins Park) -- the three-time All-Star has his most home runs (15) and RBIs (30) in Washington.
• Roark owns a career 3.32 ERA in 12 appearances (six starts) against Miami.
• With Ben Revere on the disabled list with a right oblique strain, the Nationals plan to use Michael Taylor as their primary center fielder and leadoff hitter.