Tanner Roark, Taylor Jordan make Nats’ Opening Day roster with Doug Fister out

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After competing with each other for six weeks for the Nationals’ fifth starter job, it turns out Tanner Roark and Taylor Jordan have made the team’s Opening Day roster. It happened because of an injury to starter Doug Fister, but both Roark and Jordan are excited for the opportunity no matter the circumstances.

It feels great. Finally to get the answer, it feels really good. I’m very excited,” Roark said.

“I’m definitely happy to be here again this year,” Jordan said. “Especially out of spring training, that’s something I’m very proud of myself. It feels great to be here.”

Roark and Jordan entered spring in an open competition with Ross Detwiler for the job. Then Detwiler was removed from the running and sent to the bullpen on March 17. That left Roark and Jordan to compete over the final two weeks.

Having it drag on for over a month was taxing for both pitchers. They had to work towards the season with very different possibilities for their future in mind.

“At one point, it was like the middle of spring training I was wanting to know,” Roark said. “But it was the middle of spring training, you weren’t going to find out then. After that you just let it go and you can’t really worry about it. It’s not up to you.”

It is a competition but at the same time I still have to do the very best that I can,” Jordan said. “I didn’t really focus on the competition itself as of me actually doing as well as I can.”

Manager Matt Williams is happy to have both on board. He will likely have to choose between the two at some point, but for now both are with the Nationals for the foreseeable future.

Williams was glad to be able to give each the good news before the team headed north.

“They were both excited. They were both eager to prove themselves in spring. They really pitched well. We created this competition between the two of them and they both responded. Those are very good signs.”

With Fister recovering from a right lat strain, the Nationals’ rotation will proceed as follows:

March 31 vs. Mets - Stephen Strasburg

April 2 vs. Mets - Gio Gonzalez

April 3 vs. Mets - Jordan Zimmermann

April 4 vs. Braves - Tanner Roark

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