With Doug Fister sidelined for the time being due to inflammation in his right elbow, the window of opportunity opens for some other members of the Nationals pitching staff. That includes Tanner Roark, who today gets a chance to make his first start of the spring, bumped up to take Fister's spot instead of appearing out of the bullpen as originally planned.
Roark tossed two scoreless innings of relief against the Yankees on Monday. He remains an intriguing decision for Mike Rizzo and Matt Williams, having shown himself to be effective late last season both as a starter and a reliever. If somebody from the rotation had to be scratched, Roark seems as good an option as can be expected to make an emergency start.
Roark today faces an Astros club loaded with young talent but very short on experience. He'll be opposed by left-hander Brett Oberholtzer, who has the challenge of going after a Nationals lineup featuring seven regulars.