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Washington Nationals’ Austin Voth searching for answers after another less-than-stellar start...

Austin Voth knows he has to do better, for himself, for the team as a whole, but especially the bullpen...

Washington Nationals v Atlanta Braves Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Austin Voth went five innings in each of his first two starts of the 2020 campaign, but only lasted four last time out before last night’s outing in Atlanta, giving up six hits, two walks, and three earned runs in an 8-2 loss to the New York Mets in Citi Field.

“It was a battle,” Voth said of the outing as a whole.

“I felt really good going into the game. In the bullpen I was hitting my spots, and I had life and I felt the same in the first inning. I felt like this was the first game that I’ve actually felt like I’ve got my fastball back, and life to it a little bit.

“I was just kind of missing pitches and getting my pitch count up early on which didn’t really help me, and I had to fight basically it seemed like the whole game.”

Voth threw 86 pitches in four innings before manager Davey Martinez ended the right-hander’s outing.

He wasn’t much better in terms of efficiency in start No. 4 of the 2020 campaign.

Voth needed 24 pitches to get through the bottom of the first last night in Truist Park, giving up back-to-back-to-back hits and a run to start the bottom of the inning, but he limited the damage by recording three straight outs without the remaining runners advancing.

Voth pitched his way out of a bases-loaded two-out jam in a 23-pitch second, but gave up his third walk of the game in the bottom of the third inning, a line drive double out to right by Johan Camargo, and a two-run single by Austin Riley that put the Braves up a run, 3-2.

Freddie Freeman stepped in with a runner on and one out in the Braves’ fourth and hit a 1-2 fastball from Voth, that was up and over the middle of the plate, out to right field for a two-run blast that put the Braves up by three, 5-2.

It was 6-5 in the Nationals’ favor after five, however, following a four-run rally, when Voth’s manager went to the pen...

Austin Voth’s Line: 4.0 IP, 9 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 2 Ks, 1 HR, 83 P, 52 S, 3/2 GO/FO.

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Wander Suero, Seth Romero, Dakota Bacus, Will Harris, Javy Guerra, Kyle Finnegan, and Daniel Hudson followed Voth on the mound in the Braves’ home, combining five innings that were scoreless and helped the Nationals to an 8-5 win.

Voth and his manager talked after the outing about what’s going on with the 28-year-old right-hander. Voth was clear that he’s healthy.

“Physically I feel fine,” he said. “Mechanically, I’m just searching right now. There’s a couple things that I need to tweak, cause I’m not executing my pitches right now and it’s just hurting me. I’m having to work harder and I’m racking up my pitch count and not able to go deeper in games, and it’s hurting our bullpen as well.”

“His velo is down,” Martinez said at the start of a long answer about what he’s seeing from his fifth starter.

“We talked a little bit when he came out of the game. I don’t feel like — I asked him how he felt, but when he started talking he said, ‘I just don’t feel like I have anything behind me.’

“I told him that’s exactly — for me, that’s what I’m seeing, is that he’s not in his legs. He’s not using his legs like he has in the past. He’s another guy we’re going to get him out there and work with [Pitching Coach] Paul [Menhart] this week, and see if we can get him back in his legs.

“He’s got good stuff. He’s got good stuff. And I told him, you know, I don’t want you to think that you got to go out there and — we want you to go out there and pitch six innings, but I want you to go out there and feeling comfortable, feeling good about yourself, and throwing the strikes that you know you’re capable of throwing, and then get deeper into games. But we need you to get through six innings, because at the rate we’re going, our bullpen is getting taxed already.”

Voth is down a mile or so across the board with all his pitches, but his velocity, he said, is not his biggest concern.

“I’m not too worried about the velocity right now. I’m worried about maybe the inefficiency of the pitch, because my fastball is starting to cut a little bit, and so if I can’t command my fastball to a certain side of the plate, and it’s cutting into a batter’s barrel, then I’m going to be giving up more hits, more extra base hits, and I’m just not able to locate it where I want to. I think once I get my delivery down, then I’ll be able to — I think a little bit of velo will come back and my command will come back.”

It’s not just Martinez and Menhart offering Voth advice on what they’ve seen that he needs to work on.

“Talked to Max [Scherzer] today a little bit,” Voth said, “... and he saw a couple things that he was noting on, and tomorrow I’m going to go out and see what I can do to fix those issues.”

Adding to the frustration is the fact that Voth battled for the fifth spot and earned it, and the Nationals, who lost Stephen Strasburg to injury this week, and are missing Joe Ross (opt-out from the 2020 campaign). So they could really use some longer, more efficient outings out of their starters.

“I’m in a good position and I need to be able to go deeper in games and just be able to compete, and I’m not getting it done right now. I definitely need to turn things around.”

Making mechanical tweaks and fixes between starts isn’t an easy task.

“It’s definitely tough, because you don’t want to overuse your arm throwing-wise. Definitely doing more dry work, I think, taking the throwing the ball out of the situation, out of just throwing it will help. But definitely there’s a small time period before my next start, so I have to try to figure out things real quick, and get ready for my next start, it’s going to be tough.”