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Austin Voth struggles again in Nationals’ loss to Royals: What’s next?

After an impressive, efficient 2019 debut, Austin Voth has struggled in two starts in the Nationals’ rotation...

Kansas City Royals v Washington Nationals Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

Austin Voth made a spot start against the Atlanta Braves on June 3rd, holding Washington’s NL East rivals to two runs on four hits (two solo homers) over six innings in which he struck out seven batters. He earned another turn in the rotation with that outing, but struggled the second time out, giving up six hits, two walks, and three earned runs in 4 13 innings on the mound in a 7-5 loss to the Tigers in Detroit.

Asked what went wrong in Voth’s second start of the year in the majors, his manager, Davey Martinez, pointed to the pitcher’s command.

“Fastball location,” Martinez said.

“Again, his breaking pitches were just outside the zone, they weren’t swinging at them. He went out there and he competed, he just didn’t have his command today.”

“Did not have my best stuff,” Voth acknowledged, as quoted by MASN’s Byron Kerr.

“Fastball, glove side, wasn’t there, it was just a tick off. Same with arm side. Felt like I was missing off by a little bit. Definitely felt like I battled with the stuff that I had.”

Start No. 3 in the Nationals’ rotation for Voth got off to a good start with two scoreless on 39 pitches, but he gave up three hits and two runs in a 31-pitch third inning that took him up to 70 pitches total and put the Royals on top, 2-1.

He threw a scoreless, 14-pitch fourth, but Voth was up to 96 pitches after he gave up a one-out double and a walk in the top of the fifth inning, and both runners came around to score when Javy Guerra took over on the mound...

Austin Voth’s Line: 4.1 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 6 Ks, 96 P, 60 S, 3/0 GO/FO.

What hasn’t been working for Voth the last two times out?

“I think he’s just — it’s taking him a lot of pitches to get outs,” Martinez said, “and his pitch counts are really high. He had 4 13 innings today, 96 pitches, I mean that’s a lot. I like the way he threw the ball, he’s just got to be more efficient.”

“They definitely had me in a lot of deep counts, and they are a team that they are very aggressive,” Voth said, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman after the game.

“They love to hack at first pitch, and I just wasn’t getting the first-pitch outs. I wasn’t getting early-contact outs, and I kind of need some of those throughout the game, throughout each inning.”

In three starts, the Nationals’ 27-year-old righty now has a 5.52 ERA, five walks, 16 Ks, and a .259/.328/.448 line against in 14 23 IP. Has he shown enough to get another shot?

UPDATE: Voth was optioned to Double-A to make room for Max Scherzer’s return from the Paternity List. Will he be back in the fifth spot after the Break?