WASHINGTON (SportsDirect Inc.) — Washington Nationals right-hander Tanner Roark will make his third attempt at setting a career high for wins when he goes for his 16th victory against the visiting Miami Marlins on Saturday afternoon.
Roark has lost back-to-back starts, including a 1-0 decision at Miami on Sept. 20 in what turned out to be Jose Fernandez’s final start before he was killed in a boating mishap.
Aside from a personal milestone, Roark has the chance to help Washington wrap up home-field advantage for the National League Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Despite a 7-4 loss in the series opener, the Nationals hold a two-game edge over the Dodgers with two games to play, although Los Angeles owns the tiebreaker.
Right fielder Bryce Harper returned to Washington’s lineup after missing four games with a thumb injury and showed his rust by striking out in all four plate appearances.
Marlins first baseman Justin Bour has no such issues, going 9-for-13 during a four-game hitting streak after delivering a pair of RBI singles among three hits in the series opener.
TV: 4:05 p.m. ET, FSN Florida (Miami), MASN2 (Washington)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Marlins LH Wei-Yin Chen (5-4, 5.02 ERA) vs. Nationals RH Tanner Roark (15-10, 2.86)
Chen will be making his third start since he was sidelined for two months with a left elbow sprain and hopes to make it through at least five innings this time. He allowed three runs over 4 1/3 innings — all coming via a three-run homer — versus Washington on Sept. 19 and followed that up with four innings of two-run ball against Atlanta five days later. Chen has struggled against the Nationals with a 1-4 record and 4.98 ERA in six starts.
Roark gave up 16 runs over 15 innings in dropping his first three starts to the Marlins this year but he has held them in check in his last two outings, allowing two runs — both on solo homers — over 13 2/3 innings. Roark lasted only four innings last time out against Arizona, giving up five runs on four hits. Martin Prado is 10-for-23 with a homer against Roark while catcher J.T. Realmuto has collected seven hits in 19 at-bats.
1. The Nationals joined St. Louis on Friday with six players with 20 homers, matching the NL record set by Atlanta (1965, 2003).
2. Marlins RHP A.J. Ramos registered his 40th save Friday night.
3. Nationals CF Trea Turner had 27 multiple-hit games in August and September.