A closer look at Roark’s dominant first month in the majors

I was out of town over the weekend, so I missed catching Tanner Roark’s first major league start live, but I did cue it up on the DVR once I got home.

What I saw was another really strong outing from an impressive right-hander getting by not just on pure stuff, but on location and aggression.

Roark’s six scoreless innings on Saturday add just the latest line to what’s been a dominant start to the 26-year-old’s major league career. He now has put up a 0.94 ERA over his first 10 outings, spanning 28 2/3 innings.

But let’s dig a little deeper into the numbers to learn more about just how effective Roark has been.

He’s faced 105 batters and allowed just three earned runs. Opposing hitters are batting .186 off Roark, reaching base at a lowly .238 clip and slugging a miniscule .196.

For those who don’t feel like doing the math, I’ll hook you up and do it for you. That’s a .434 OPS, which is 16 points lower than Jayson Werth’s on-base percentage since July 1.

Both halves of that stat are remarkable.

So how has Roark been able to have so much success so early in his career? He’s thrown strikes and he’s limited the mistake pitches.

Roark has attacked hitters, throwing an impressive 67 percent of his pitches for strikes, behind just Jordan Zimmermann and Ian Krol among Nationals pitchers.

In his start on Saturday, Roark needed just 71 pitches to complete six innings. That leaves his average number of pitches thrown per inning at 13.39 this season, which - get this - ranks second in all of Major League Baseball among pitchers with at least 20 innings thrown.

Only Cardinals closer Edward Mujica, who has thrown 13.27 pitches per inning this season, beats Roark in that category.

Roark has allowed an extra-base hit to just one percent of hitters faced (yes, one percent) and still has not surrendered a home run in the big leagues.

Believe it or not, the only extra-base hit Roark has surrendered to those 105 batters he’s seen was a Josh Satin double back on August 31.

Seventeen singles, one double, and that’s it.

Roark has thrown 64 sliders in his 10 outings and not a single one has resulted in a hit. Opposing batters are hitting .210 off Roark’s fastball, .143 off his curveball and .273 off his changeup.

The basic numbers that Roark has posted so far - the 5-0 record, the 0.94 ERA - are really impressive. The more advanced numbers jump out at you even more.

Can Roark keep his performance up near this level, or is this a fluke start? Only time will tell, but some of Roark’s numbers at Triple-A Syracuse this season aren’t too far off from what he’s done up here in the majors.

Roark threw 66 percent of his pitches for strikes at Syracuse before being called up this year, threw 14.7 pitches per inning and allowed just six home runs in 106 2/3 innings of work.

Again, he was attacking the zone and avoiding major mistakes. And that’s a recipe for success at any level.

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