While all signs pointed to Joe Ross getting the start in Sunday’s series finale with the Atlanta Braves in the nation’s capital, Washington Nationals’ manager Davey Martinez told reporters before the second of three with their NL East rivals on Saturday night that he had not made any decision on who’d get the nod.
“No. Really, honestly, haven’t decided yet,” Martinez said, as quoted by MASN’s Byron Kerr.
“We will just see how it plays out tonight, how the game plays out.”
Ross ended up pitching in the eighth inning Saturday, which did not that go well, and the Nationals’ skipper announced after what ended up a 13-9 loss that it was going to be right-hander Austin Voth taking on the Braves in the third of three in D.C.
“Austin Voth will start tomorrow, and we’ll make a corresponding move in the morning.”
The corresponding move was the release of veteran Trevor Rosenthal.
Voth gave the Nationals more than they probably expected, surrendering just four hits and two runs in six innings on the mound, with both runs coming on solo homers, one each by Josh Donaldson and the reigning NL Rookie of the Year, Ronald Acuña, Jr.
Voth struck out a career high seven batters and got through the six innings on just 83 pitches, 23 of which came in his final inning of work.
Austin Voth’s Line: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 7 Ks, 2 HRs, 83 P, 57 S, 5/5 GO/FO.
After averaging 91.5 MPH with his fastball in limited exposure in the majors in 2018, Voth’s, fastball sat around 93.9 this afternoon, generating 12 swinging strikes and 11 called strikes with his four-seamer, which he threw for 61 of his 83 pitches overall.
What did his manager think of the outing, in what ended up a 4-3 loss in extra innings?
“Really good,” Martinez said.
“Really good. Very impressed. What I really liked is 83 pitches and he kept his velo up, 94-95, so really awesome to see him come up here and do what he did.”
“I had nine days off since my last start, so my arm was fresh,” Voth told reporters.
“Got a little tired in the fifth, but felt I did a pretty good job of keeping them off-balance, definitely with my fastball, locating it up and down, changing eye-level, but yeah, I felt great.”
Martinez said he didn’t have think much about sending his starter back out for the fifth, as well as he’d done to that point.
Austin Voth notched a career-high 7 strikeouts.— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) June 23, 2019
He issued 0 walks. His fastball hit 96. pic.twitter.com/evgkpa9dQD
“Like I said, he was really pitching well,” he explained. “I think [Voth] finished at 83 pitches, six innings, so it was good to see. Had a guy on third base, two outs, didn’t seem to bother him much, got a big out, and did really well.”
He did give up his second home run in the first at bat, however, on a 2-1 fastball up in the zone and over the middle of the plate to Acuña, Jr. Donaldson’s home run came on a 1-0 slider that he left up as well.
“Those were just pitches that I was trying to command pitches in the zone and they got a little bit too much of the plate,” Voth said.
Returning to the surprising velocity, Martinez said he wasn’t sure what to make of it.
“I know. He was good. I can’t explain it. I know he works hard, he works really hard, but like I said, if he can continue to do that, he’s going to pitch here for a while.”
Voth said the nine days off he had between starts might have had something to do with the fact that he maxed out at 96 MPH.
“I’ve been touching 95 in Fresno,” he said, “but 96, I don’t think I’ve touched that in a couple starts.”
Did Voth earn another look?
“I really liked what I saw,” Martinez said.
“I really did. Everything was good, but we’ll see where he fits in. But I really —- like I was very impressed, especially like I said, in the sixth inning he’s still throwing 94 MPH, and he looked very poised, so it was awesome.”
“I’m just happy for the opportunity,” Voth said, “especially with the Nats — they’re trying to win, so any opportunity that you get you definitely want to make the most of it.”