After an extended run as a generally productive starter with the Nationals, Athletics and Reds, Roark signed a two-year, $24MM deal with Toronto during the 2019-20 offseason. That proved to be a poor investment for the Jays, with whom Roark tossed 47 2/3 innings of 6.80 ERA/5.36 SIERA ball in 2020. In the process, Roark’s already-middling strikeout rate fell more than three percentage points to 18.6%, while his typically strong walk rate spiked to a lofty 10.5%.
On the heels of that dismal season, the Jays didn’t give Roark much of a leash in this season’s early going. They designated him for assignment after just three uninspiring appearances in 2021. Roark coughed up seven runs in as many innings (five earned), while serving up three homers and striking out just five. His 6.9% swinging strike rate over that small sample has been the worst mark of his career, so the Toronto front office clearly didn’t envision a future turnaround.
Despite the surprise emergence of Huascar Ynoa, Atlanta’s rotation has posted some unspectacular numbers as a whole. Charlie Morton and Drew Smyly (both signed to free agent deals last winter) have gotten off to slow starts and Max Fried has spent some time on the injured list. Bryse Wilson, Kyle Wright, and Sean Newcomb are the club’s top depth option, though Roark has far more experience than any of those younger hurlers. While Roark might need some time at Triple-A to get himself back on track, he does represent at least an innings-eating possibility for the back end of the Braves’ pitching staff.