In three starts and one 2 1⁄3-inning relief appearance in September before his start against Cleveland last night, Washington Nationals’ right-hander Austin Voth had a 2.12 ERA, with seven walks, 19 Ks, and .207/.288/.414 line against in 17 IP overall, making an interest case for himself as a potential part of the Nats’ postseason pitching staff.
“As we go forward,” Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez told reporters earlier this month, “I often think about once we get there he’d be a guy that we can plop in and he can get big outs for us. He’s got good stuff, and we just got to keep him going.”
Heading into last night’s start, the 27-year-old right-hander had put up a 3.35 ERA, 13 walks, 39 Ks, and a .226/.305/.423 line against in 37 2⁄3 IP in the majors this season.
Voth retired the first six batters in order in the series opener with the Indians in Nationals Park, and took the mound with a 2-0 lead in the third, but he gave up a leadoff single by Greg Allen, an RBI double by Ryan Flaherty, sac bunt by the opposing pitcher, Zach Plesac, and a sac fly out to center by Francisco Lindor that tied things up in the top of the third.
Voth needed just 61 pitches to get through five, with the score still tied at 2-2, and he retired the Indians in order in a 13-pitch sixth, before the Nats rallied for five runs in the bottom of the inning in what ended up an 8-2 win.
Voth earned the win, since he was still the pitcher of record when the Nationals took the lead, (W, 2-1, 3.30 ERA).
Austin Voth’s Line: 6.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 5 Ks, 73 P, 43 S, 5/3 GO/FO.
Voth, who’d dealt with what manager Davey Martinez described as a “blister, nail thing” and the pitcher said was a “cut” on his right hand, which affected his ability to throw offspeed stuff, had a really good curve last night, which he threw 18 times, getting five swinging and six called strikes with the pitch overall, with one fouled off and only two put in play.
“Finger is definitely feeling a lot better,” Voth said when asked about his curve after the win.
“In the bullpen I could tell it was going to be on today, both the slider and curveball felt pretty good.”
Having his offspeed stuff, and specifically his curve, working, he said, obviously gives him options when he gets in tough spots.
“Even if I fall behind in the counts I know that I can get back with throwing my offspeed for strikes, and especially when it’s on, it’s a good pitch.”
Voth made five starts in June/July, and dealt with an injury (originally diagnosed as biceps tendinitis, then later identified as tendinitis in the shoulder) before coming back up for a September run.
In five games (four starts) this month, after last night’s outing, the right-hander has a 2.35 ERA, seven walks, 24 Ks, and a .184/.247/.355 line against after an impressive outing in the opener with the Indians.
“That’s exactly how you want to end the season, on a good note,” Voth told reporters.
“I ended up six innings, only have a couple hits, just that third inning I missed my location a couple times, and kind of paid for it, but exactly how I wanted to finish the season.”
His manager said after last night’s game that he’s liked what he’s seen from Voth all season.
“I saw him in Spring Training this year,” Martinez said, “... and I thought that he had matured a lot, even in Spring Training, and he kept going all year, now I know he had an injury, but now he came back and he’s throwing the ball really well. What I like about him, he doesn’t get rattled, and he keeps pumping strikes, he falls behind, he uses all his pitches, and he knows how to get outs.”
“I’d say that I took a step forward this year, compared to last year,” Voth said when asked to sum up his 2019 campaign.
“Last year I just made my debut and I was trying to find myself on this team, and this year I definitely took a step forward and going into next year.”
Voth has pitched well enough down the stretch that he might now be done just yet, which is an exciting proposition for him.
“It’s exciting,” he acknowledged. “I’m just happy for the season that I had.”