After three call-ups in which he did not actually get to pitch in what would have been his MLB debut, Austin Voth finally got his opportunity to start for the Nationals on Saturday afternoon in the third game of four for Washington and the New York Mets in Citi Field.
“Actually looking forward to watching him pitch,” Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez told reporters on Friday night.
“He’s been up here a few times now, so I’m looking forward to that one.”
Voth was looking forward to it too, not just making his major league debut, but also getting his big league teammates to leave him alone.
“They’ve been giving me crap for being here for so long and not pitching,” Voth joked, “so finally be able to pitch and they won’t have to get on me about that.”
Aside from the good-hearted ribbing, however, his teammates had been helpful and he said he took the opportunity of being up a few times to get comfortable in what could be a bit of a stressful situation.
“Definitely Gio [Gonzalez], [Max] Scherzer, all the guys in the rotation have like talked to me a little bit,” he said, “and I’ve been in the bullpen for the last two games now, so I got to talk to all of them and got to hang out with them.”
“I think it helps him calm down,” Martinez said when asked about Voth being up a few times and here for a while before actually pitching.
“We thought we might have to use him in the bullpen when he was here this whole time so he gets the opportunity to go out there and start, and hopefully he just gives us a little length and throws strikes.
“The biggest thing for me for a young kid is to just kind of show poise and just relax and go out there and throw strikes.”
“Heard nothing but good things about him,” Martinez added. “and so I’m looking forward to him going out there and just pitching.”
When he finally got on the mound, Voth worked around a one-out single in a 14-pitch first, but four consecutive singles in the second, a sac fly, and an RBI groundout gave the Mets a 3-0 lead.
He set down nine of the next ten, however, and Voth kept it at 3-0 New York through four on 70 pitches.
Back-to-back, one-out walks set the Mets up with an opportunity in the fifth, however, and Michael Conforto cashed it in, hitting a 1-2 fastball out to right for a three-run blast and a 6-0 lead, and the Mets added a run on an RBI single by Jose Reyes before Voth was done, 7-0.
Austin Voth’s Line: 4.1 IP, 9 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 3 BB, 3 Ks, 1 HR, 99 P, 62 S, 5/4 GO/FO.
After what ended up a 7-4 loss, Voth and his manager both offered their assessments of the 2013 5th Round pick’s first outing.
“I felt good till that fifth inning where I got the first guy out and then I go and walk two batters and that’s what hurt me,” Voth said.
“And then I felt like I was still in control, just let a fastball leak over the plate.”
“He threw one bad pitch to Conforto,” Martinez said. “The hits were pretty … I thought he had good stuff. After he gave up those couple runs, he went back out there in the fifth and a couple hits. And then he gave up the three-run homer, which was a bad pitch. He wanted to get the ball up. It was down.”
“I was throwing it up and in and getting swing and misses to the lefties all day and just one mistake pitch, then a couple hits after that,” Voth continued.
He did say he was happy to find he could compete, and was able to get swings and misses, nine total, eight with his fastball, which sat 91-93, and one with his changeup (86-87).
“For me, I think it’s a lesson learned,” Martinez said. “He got a chance to pitch. I told him: You’re going to pitch up here. Learn from your mistakes and move on. Failure’s not a bad thing all the time. Just learn from it. And next time you get an opportunity, be ready.”
As for any other advice he had for the starter?
“We’ll have a conversation more about it tomorrow. When you’re in game, you focus on what’s going on in-game. And I just said: ‘Hey, good job. We’ll talk more tomorrow.’ But it’s more of a teaching, for him to learn. He had [Max] Scherzer over there nitpicking and talking to him. I’m sure he got a lot out of that.”
The “nitpicking” from Scherzer, as Martinez described, apparently continued after the game as well.
“After the game me and him were in the video room and were kind of going over a couple things that he had some questions for me and kind of just assessing some of my mechanics and maybe something I can adjust or something I can change and improve on, but yeah, that definitely helped,” Voth said.
Must be nice having a three-time Cy Young award-winner as a sounding board, offering advice? “For sure,” Voth said.