clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

In need of a spot starter, the Washington Nationals may be turning to Austin Voth

Maybe we’ll get baseball today, maybe we won’t. If the Nationals do play both games of the doubleheader today, then we may see Austin Voth make his 2019 debut.

MLB: New York Mets at Washington Nationals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

After two postponements in a row, the rain is well and truly back to haunt Washington Nationals fans and reporters alike. Information about group therapy should be out shortly...

Meanwhile, the Nationals are now potentially staring at six games in five days. Assuming all the games are played, they would need to use a spot starter somewhere along the way.

Because of an off-day on Monday, this becomes moot if the Nationals get rained out again, which isn’t exactly out of the question based on the forecast. But let’s be optimistic ...

After the postponement on Tuesday, the Nationals announced Patrick Corbin would pitch the first game of the doubleheader, but no starter was announced for the second game.

Jesse Dougherty of The Washington Post reported that Voth was on his way to D.C. for the doubleheader today to be the team’s 26th man. It’s not clear just yet whether he will start the second game, but logistically, it would make sense instead of juggling some players later in the week when the extra roster spot isn’t available.

When Jeremy Hellickson was injured earlier this season, Voth was a candidate to get the call then with GM Mike Rizzo specifically mentioned Voth’s name to the Sports Junkies.

In the end, they passed him up due to a blister issue and went with Kyle McGowin instead.

Voth will be hoping for better results than last season when he made his big league debut.

In four appearances, including two starts, he pitched to a 6.57 ERA, walking six and striking out eleven in 12.1 innings.

After getting roughed up in his big league debut, he looked much better in his second start.

Against the New York Mets, he allowed just one hit over five innings while punching out five.

“The main thing was just executing my pitches,” Voth said of what he changed in his second start. “In the first game against the Mets I wasn’t executing my pitches, I was up in the zone, and my curveball was really on today. I was able to throw that in and out of the strike zone.”

His performance in that start also left a positive impression on his manager.

“When he’s on, he can throw his breaking ball for strikes, his cutter for strikes,” Davey Martinez explained to reporters following Voth’s first career win last season.

Though Voth doesn’t exactly have overpowering stuff - his fastball sits in the low 90s with a high 70s curveball and mid 80s changeup - his command and quick tempo on the mound has been the key to his success in the minor leagues.

“It’s fun to play behind him when he gets going,” Ryan Zimmerman said after that same September start.

“As a defender, when a guy is throwing strikes and working quick, it’s great for us.”

Though Voth doesn’t have the stuff or the ceiling to be a top-half of the rotation starter, his solid showings at Triple-A indicate he can at least be a nice depth starter, which is exactly what he may be called upon to be for today’s doubleheader.

The right-hander has done a fine job with the Fresno Grizzlies so far in 2019. He currently owns a 4.40 ERA in his 12 starts, striking out 68 and walking just 15 in 61.1 innings.

That ERA figure may raise eyebrows, but remember, he’s doing this in the Pacific Coast League, a notoriously hitter-friendly league.

Even though he’s up at 4.40, that’s propped up by a lofty .345 BABIP, perhaps making his 3.73 FIP a better indication of his performance.

Comparing him to others in the PCL also puts his numbers into perspective.

Among qualifiers, his strikeout percentage ranks third in the league, his walk percentage is the second lowest, while his FIP and xFIP are both ranked second.

He’s even coming off of his best outing of the season. Last Thursday, Voth tossed seven stellar innings, allowing just two earned runs on five hits and walk, striking out seven.

Using Voth to start in the doubleheader would seem to be a perfect opportunity for the Nats to get the spot start out of the way with the extra roster spot while also using a pitcher who has pitched pretty well in Triple-A so far this season.

Now all we need to hope for is the weather gods being a little bit kinder so that we can watch some baseball during this series...