Austin Voth gave up 11 hits, six runs (five earned), and three walks in his first three starts and 14 innings pitched to start the season, before giving up nine hits, five runs (all earned) and a total of three walks in four innings (in which he threw 83 pitches) last time out on the road in Atlanta.
Voth, 28, talked after the rough, brief outing against the Braves, about wanting to get things straightened out, mechanically speaking, with his velocity down and command an issue the right-hander said was leading to damage.
“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.”
“My fastball is starting to cut a little bit,” Voth explained.
“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.”
He also said that he was dealing with these issues for a few starts.
“Definitely the last couple starts, I just haven’t felt confident on the mound. Just battling to kind of get through. I’ve been working, playing catch, trying to figure it out.”
Voth did, however, get some advice from a fellow member of the Nationals’ rotation.
“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.”
“It’s awesome,” Nationals’ manager Davey Martinez said before last night’s game, of the way all the Nats’ pitchers are working behind the scenes to help one another.
Scherzer and Voth in particular, he said, “they worked together a lot during the layoff. They were both in Florida together.
“Max helped him. They threw together as much as they possibly could. So Max has an idea about his mechanics and stuff, so they talked about his mechanics these last few days.
“I’m curious to see what transpired of these conversations. I know we talked a lot about staying on his lower half. I talked to Voth yesterday. He said he feels a lot better. He had a good bullpen, so let’s see what happens and see what he can do during the game today.”
Voth looked good early, working around a hit in two scoreless which he completed on just 25 pitches, but his 29th pitch of the third (and 54th pitch of the game) was a 3-2 fastball to Marlins’ slugger Jesús Aguilar that missed and forced in a run after Miami loaded the bases with two out.
The Marlins added a run on an RBI single by Jonathan Villar in the top of the fourth, and the third walk of the game by Voth loaded the bases for the second inning in a row. Jon Berti’s two-out, two-run single to right made it a 4-0 game and ended Voth’s outing after just 3 2⁄3 IP...
Austin Voth’s Line: 3.2 IP, 6 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 3 Ks, 73 P, 43 S, 1/2 GO/FO.
“Voth struggled again today,” Martinez said after what ended up an 11-8 loss to the Fish.
“He had almost 75 pitches in 3 2⁄3 innings. We just got to get him to start throwing strikes.
“Today, I thought he was throwing the ball okay, he just was nibbling a little bit too much. I want him to just go out there and attack the hitters.”
“You’ve got to pound the strike zone,” Martinez added. “You’ve got to pound the strike zone.
“I’m going to talk to him tomorrow and see what’s going on with him again, and then — but he’s got to get strike one. He’s a guy that we know, he can get strike one, when he works ahead he’s really good, so we got to get him to start throwing strike one and start finishing.
“A couple times he had 0-2 counts and couldn’t finish.
“I think that’s just trying to be a little too cautious. When you’re 0-2 and the hitter is behind like that, for me, that’s your time to put them away. Not nibble, just go right after them and put them away.”
“That’s a good observation,” catcher Yan Gomes said of his manager’s assessment of Voth’s outing. “I think that’s something that we’re going to have to look at, and talk to him about it.
“I know Austin he plays really well with his fastball, and his fastball usually plays up a lot, but when you’re getting behind in counts and stuff like that, it’s kind hard to get back into it.
“But yeah, that’s a good observation, I think that’s something that we’re definitely going to have to talk to him.”
Voth said that nibbling was, “part of it, and just missing my spots. If I can locate a fastball in to Aguilar earlier in that at bat, I feel like I got him, but I wasn’t able to make the pitches that I needed to make.”
“I’m extremely frustrated,” he said. “I know I’m capable of more. I know that there’s more in the tank. It’s just I get these at bats where I’m throwing 8-9 pitches for one batter and then get a base hit, and then I’m fighting again and give up another couple base hits.
“It’s just frustrating that I can’t go deeper in games right now.”
He’s already made five starts now, however, and the Nationals are close to the midway point in this 60-game season, so he’s going to have to figure things out quickly.
“I’ve got to change things quick and get in a groove, but I know that I’m close,” Voth said.
If he doesn’t figure it out in the next start or so, do the Nationals have to consider making a change in the rotation?
“I’m not going to jump into conclusions tonight,” Martinez said. “I don’t do that as you guys know. I’ll assess everything, and I’ll talk to him tomorrow, and we’ll go from there.”