Austin Voth tossed five scoreless innings against the Baltimore Orioles in his second start of the 2020 campaign back on August 8th, but in the three that followed that outing, before a start on Sunday afternoon in Fenway Park, Washington’s 28-year-old right-hander struggled to the tune of a 10.80 ERA in 11 2⁄3 IP, with opposing hitters putting up a .404/.500/.673 line against him.
Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez was asked, after Voth gave up six hits, three walks, and six earned runs in 3 2⁄3 IP in an 11-8 loss to Miami’s Marlins, if it was time to start thinking about going another direction in back of the rotation.
“I’m not going to jump into conclusions tonight. 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,” Martinez said.
A day later, the third-year manager said he just wanted to see Voth get back to being the pitcher he was when he earned the fifth spot in the rotation in Spring Training 1.0 and 2.0.
“We need him. We said this coming in, he earned the right to be the fifth starter, so we’ve got to fix him, and hopefully we’ll get him going this week, and hopefully his next outing he’ll be better.”
Though he hadn’t spoken to Voth at that point, he said his message for the pitcher was a simple one.
“I want you to be Austin Voth that personally I fell in love with, and that’s attacking the zone with your fastball,” Martinez said.
“Up, in, down, away, and then after that use your secondary pitches and see where we go from there.”
Alex Verdugo kept the second inning alive with a two-out double to left in the bottom of the second inning, and Rafael Devers followed with a two-run home run to right on a 1-2 fastball from Voth that just cleared the short fence, 5-0.
The Nationals scored two in the top of the third, and Martinez went to the pen in the bottom of the inning.
Austin Voth’s Line: 2.0 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 3 Ks, 2 HRs, 58 P, 40 S, 1/1 GO/FO.
After what ended up a 9-5 loss, the third-year skipper said he and his staff had to find some sort of fix.
“I’m going to sit down probably tonight or tomorrow and we’ve got to reassess what’s going on with him. He’s just falling behind, I don’t think he’s pitching aggressive enough,” Martinez explained.
“I’m going to talk to him again and see where we’re at, but we need to get more out of him.
“We can’t — we’re playing games every day when he’s out there and he’s falling behind and it’s tough, it’s the big leagues, it’s tough to come back every day like that.”
Voth’s velocity is off a tick this season (91.7 AVG down from 92.7), but he isn’t the only one who’s off a bit this year, and he said after facing the Red Sox that he didn’t think velo was the issue.
“I mean, it’s more about me throwing through the catcher,” Voth suggested, “and making sure that I’m spinning the ball right, and I’m not spinning the ball right and I’m not having life on my fastball.
“If I had 91-92 and I had life to it it would be different, but I’m cutting the ball right now and just not executing my pitches.”
He’s healthy too, and in spite of the results he said he felt good on the mound in Fenway.
“I felt fine,” Voth said. “I thought the ball was coming out well. I thought I was hitting my spots, I just didn’t execute a couple of them, and yeah, I thought my stuff was decent today.”
As for potential fixes?
I’ve just got to focus on my mechanics,” Voth told reporters. “I need to continue to go out there and compete.”
“At this point it’s probably just a minor thing that I need to tweak right now, but I’ll get back to the grind and see what I come up with.”