About eight years ago, Tanner Roark was pitching in the independent Frontier League after his college team released him. He had an ERA greater than 20.00 in three games. Then the Rangers drafted him, traded him to the Nationals, and he switched to throwing only two-seamers as his main fastball. A few years later, he put up a three-win, 198-inning season, and now — after largely unsuccessful work out of the bullpen in 2015 — he’s a few days removed from a 15-strikeout game. The career arc was pretty tumultuous and incredible before Saturday’s game, and now it’s the sort of thing about which someone writes a book a decade afterwards.
Let’s start with a table to reinforce this day of strangeness. Below is a list of all of the 15-plus strikeout games in the past five years. There are 21 of them, from Jered Weaver’s (!) 15-K game in April of 2011 all the way up to Roark’s gem this past Saturday. Average fastball velocity displayed is for that particular 15-plus strikeout game:
|Player||Ks||Date||Avg. Fastball Velocity|