Roark faces old club as Jays meet Nationals

MLB

Right-hander Tanner Roark will be facing his former team of six seasons when he starts Tuesday night for the visiting Toronto Blue Jays against the Washington Nationals.

Roark, who pitched for the Nationals from 2013-2018, will be trying to help the Blue Jays to their second straight win over the 2019 World Series champions when he opposes right-hander Austin Voth, who was 2-1 with a 3.30 ERA last year.

The Blue Jays won the opener of the four-game series Monday 4-1 on the strength of four solo home runs.

“I’m excited,” Roark said on Monday. “It’s going to be weird with no fans. I know the mound there like the back of my hand, so I’ll be ready to go.”

Roark was 10-10 with a 4.35 ERA last season with the Cincinnati Reds and the Oakland Athletics and signed with the Blue Jays in the offseason. He was 15-10 with a 2.85 ERA in 2014 with the Nationals and 16-10, 2.83, in 2016.

He is 0-1 with a 6.00 ERA in one career start against Washington, which came last season. Voth has never faced Toronto.

The Blue Jays have split their first four games of the season. The Nationals have lost three of their first four games.

Both teams were without key players to open the series. The Nationals continue to play without Juan Soto, who tested positive for COVID-19.

Soto has had one negative test, but will need two negative tests at least 24 hours apart before he can return to play, according to MLB protocol.

“The good news is he feels fine,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said on Monday. “He’s got a bike in his apartment. He’s got some weights in there. I know he’s trying to — the best he can — stay in shape. I just told him, ‘Keep your head up.’ Hopefully this is the last of it.”

Michael A. Taylor played left field in place of Soto again on Monday and was 0-for-4.

The Nationals have signed versatile Josh Harrison, who was in uniform against Toronto but did not play. Catcher Raudy Read was optioned to make room for him on the 30-man roster.

Harrison has played every position except catcher, first base and center field.

“When you play against him, you see he had that energy, that passion for the game — the kind of guy we like,” Martinez said. “The other thing is, he brings a lot of different aspects to the game. He can run, play multiple different positions — infield, outfield.”

The Blue Jays, meanwhile, were without Ken Giles (right forearm strain), who was put on the IL Monday, Travis Shaw (family medical leave), Randal Grichuk (lower back irritation) and Bo Bichette (tight hamstring).

Wilmer Font was activated from the injured list and Ryan Borucki was recalled from the taxi squad and pitched 1 1/3 innings of relief Monday to gain the win.

Anthony Bass will replace Giles as closer and earned the save Monday.

Teoscar Hernandez was moved up in the lineup to replace Bichette in the leadoff spot Monday and led off the game with a home run and also led off the fifth with a homer.

Toronto second baseman Cavan Biggio was 0-for-4 on Monday, which ended a 32-game on-base streak. After the game, Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo said that right-hander Nate Pearson will make his major-league debut when he starts the game on Wednesday.

–Field Level Media

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