Tatusko and Roark still connected as they focus on getting to D.C.

Right-hander Ryan Tatusko gained more front-line experience early this offseason, pitching in seven games and 20 2/3 innings in the Venezuelan Winter League. The former Indiana State Sycamore went 0-5 with a 6.10 ERA, getting lit up in his final three appearances, but felt the test of facing quality hitters from several different levels will help him gear up for what he will see in 2012.

Here's more insight on what Tatusko does on the mound to get guys out.

His numbers were solid as he moved from Double-A Harrisburg to Triple-A Syracuse last season. With the Chiefs, Tatusko went 3-4 with a 4.54 ERA, 28 strikeouts and 19 walks in 23 games (39 2/3 innings).

Oh, wait! I can't talk about Tatusko without mentioning Tanner Roark, right? After all, Tatusko and Roark came to the Nationals from the Texas Rangers in the Cristian Guzman trade in 2010.

Former Harrisburg pitching coach Randy Tomlin knows both these pitchers very well. He said Tatusko has shown excellent velocity and continues to focus on his command.

"Ryan is a guy that has stuff," Tomlin said. "He can flash the 93 to 94 mph with the heavy ball. He shows an average to above-average breaking ball. The thing that has always been with him the command. If he limits his walks and is executing his pitches, he has got a good shot."

As for Roark, he went 5-4 with a 3.23 ERA in his final games for Double-A Harrisburg in 2011. He finished the year with 92 strikeouts in 117 innings.

"Tanner Roark finished the year really well, throwing better stuff in every way," Tomlin said. "This year will speak to whether or not he develops into a guy that makes it to the big leagues. He is capable of it. Mentally, he is a battler.

Tomlin said once Roark got acclimated to his new surroundings he was able to settle in.

"When (Roark) got to us, had a slow start, struggled a little bit, but then he improved and improved and finished pitching really as good as anyone we have," Tomlin said. "This was mainly because he started locating and pitching down all the time. He can eat innings.

"He pitches right at 90 mph. He is a little deceptive in his velocity because it doesn't look 90 mph, but it is. He can command his fast ball really well and he pitches aggressively. His breaking stuff is okay and it got better. His curveball is a good pitch. This is the season for him where he looks to carry that out for a whole year."

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