WASHINGTON -- Nationals right-hander Tanner Roark is starting to look like his old self after another strong start Wednesday afternoon, even though the Nationals came up short in a 3-2 defeat to the Angels.Roark surrendered three runs in seven innings to spin his fifth quality start in six outings since
WASHINGTON -- Nationals right-hander Tanner Roark is starting to look like his old self after another strong start Wednesday afternoon, even though the Nationals came up short in a 3-2 defeat to the Angels.
Roark surrendered three runs in seven innings to spin his fifth quality start in six outings since the All-Star break. He has settled in nicely since his disastrous first half, posting a 3.13 ERA since the break, compared to a 5.27 ERA prior.
"I think he is starting to find a groove a little bit, which is good for us because we are going to need him," first baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. "The way he pitched last year and the way we know he can pitch, he can be a big part of this team in the second half and hopefully beyond that."
Now the Nationals' rotation -- their bread-and-butter during this recent stretch of success during the past few seasons -- is starting to take form as the best version of itself. Max Scherzer is perhaps the favorite to win the National League Cy Young Award. Stephen Strasburg is in line to return this weekend from the disabled list. Giovany Gonzalez is enjoying one of the best seasons of his career. And even No. 5 starter Edwin Jackson has been solid in five starts since joining the team to replace Joe Ross.
Roark has taken the longest to get on track after enduring a frustrating few months. Now he looks much more like the starter from 2016, when he owned the lowest ERA in the Nationals rotation and routinely pitched deep into games. And if that version of Roark becomes the Nats' No. 4 starter, it strengthens an already formidable starting-pitching staff.
"The rotation is coming around the way we want it to," manager Dusty Baker said. "To have winning streaks, you have to have one or two times around with outstanding pitching. Most of the time, if you go three runs against our offense, it's not going to be enough. ... If we keep getting that kind of pitching, all of us know we're just due for a hot streak we haven't had all year long. We've played steady baseball, but we haven't had that extended winning streak."
Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.