In three starts this season, after he was shifted to the bullpen to start the year and moved back into the rotation when Doug Fister went down with an injury, Tanner Roark is (2-0) after earning the decision in last night's 7-5 win over the Chicago Cubs in the nation's capital.
In 16 ⅔ IP as a starter this season, the Nats' 28-year-old right-hander has a 3.78 ERA, a 7.32 FIP, three walks (1.62 BB/9), 10 Ks (5.40 K/9), a .213/.262/.508 line against and a .156 BABIP against after 5 ⅔ IP last night vs the Cubs.
Roark gave up six hits and four runs, three of them on home runs by Anthony Rizzo and Miguel Montero in the sixth as he ran out of gas with his pitch count up to a season-high 97 pitches.
"Early on his fastball was really good, 93 or 94 [mph]," Nats' skipper Matt Williams said after the Nationals snapped a three-game losing streak with the win.
"As he got later in the game, again, we have to realize, this is start no.3 for him, so it's not like he's midseason form yet and it looked like he got a little bit tired at the end there, left the ball up to Rizzo and left the ball up to Miggy and so we decided to get him out of there with the lead."
Roark, whose fastball has ticked up since he moved back into a relief role this season, talked after the outing against the Cubs, about the fact that he's still been throwing hard as a starter, averaging 94.2 mph with his four-seamer last night and sitting around 93.5 with his two-seamer, which maxed out at 95.9 mph, up from a 91.5 mph average velo with his four-seamer and two-seamer over the course of his two major league seasons.
"I've never really stayed up that high before ever," Roark told reporters. "So, I mean, gotta credit the strength training in there and then just working hard and just attacking."
Asked if he was relying more on his fastball now that he's added some velocity, Roark said it's always been his go-to pitch.
"My fastball has always been my best pitch," he explained, "locating it well and keeping it down, trying to keep it down, elevating if I need to, so I mean, [the added velocity], it's definitely a plus."
Roark also talked about the run-support he received helping to make things easier for him and his teammates, after they've struggled to score runs over the last few weeks.
"It definitely lightens the mood," he said, "and have a little a fun out there, it's been great in the dugout and just keep going, keep moving forward."
• We talked about Tanner Roark's outing, the Nationals' 7-5 win and more on last night's edition of Nats Nightly: