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Austin Voth has strong effort squandered in the Nationals’ bullpen in 5-3 loss to Orioles...

Austin Voth slowed down in his final inning of work in the fifth, then the bullpen blew the 3-0 lead he handed them.

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Washington Nationals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Austin Voth went five innings on 70 pitches in his 2020 debut, which was his 11th start in the majors so far. In his starting assignments, the 28-year-old, 2013 5th Round pick has gone an average of around five innings per outing, which is something his manager, Davey Martinez, said before last night’s start against the Baltimore Orioles they needed to focus on in order for the right-hander to take the next step in his career.

“We want to see him pitch deeper in games,” Martinez said succinctly.

Now that Voth has been up in the majors for parts of three seasons, and knows something of what it takes to compete at this level, and, more importantly, knows he can compete, a fairly obvious next step is to find ways to be more efficient and stay out on the mound for longer outings when his turn in the rotation comes around.

“His stuff plays up here as we’ve all seen,” Martinez added. “His fastball plays, his curveball, changeup, it’s really good, now we’ve just got to get him consistent and going deeper into games.

“We feel like he can do that. With this year it’s just been crazy.

“We’re just getting him out there, but we understand. We tried to build him up, but we’ve got to be careful with where we’re at with him.

“I’m expecting him to go five-plus innings today, we’ll see how he does.”

Voth got through five scoreless on 73 pitches, working around two hits and walk as the Nats jumped out to a 2-0 lead, but he labored in his final inning of work, giving up a leadoff walk and single to the first two batters he faced before retiring the next three hitters in order, two via K, to keep the Orioles off the board...

Austin Voth’s Line: 5.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 Ks, 73 P, 45 S, 4/3 GO/FO.

It was 3-0 Nationals after six, but Sean Doolittle gave up back-to-back home runs in the first two at bats of the eighth, and Daniel Hudson walked the first batter he faced, gave up a line drive single, and surrendered a go-ahead, three-run homer that ended up deciding things in the Orioles’ favor in what ended up a 5-3 game.

“I definitely feel like we spoiled a pretty good outing from Austin there,” Hudson said after the loss.

Would things have turned out differently if Voth was able to go deeper into the outing? It’s impossible to say, and his manager said that they saw things that concerned them enough that they ended his start where they did.

“He goes out there and he’s been doing well,” Martinez explained. “The key for him, is we watch him and all of a sudden his velo drops tremendously. He went from 92 to 88-89, and then his balls got up. We just got to keep an eye on him. But he does well, he does well for five innings, we’ve just got to build him up.”

“I thought I threw well [considering] I didn’t have my best stuff, had to rely on my curveball a lot to get me out of jams, get ahead of batters,” Voth said in assessing his own outing.

Voth generated 11 swinging strikes overall on the night, six with his fastball and four with his curve, and six of 10 called strikes on the night with his curveball.

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“The game plan was just to try to get ahead and then to kind of nibble around the strike zone,” Voth explained.

“They’re a very aggressive team. We were just trying to throw pitches that would be kind of outside the strike zone that they wouldn’t have been able to make hard contact.”

Voth said he leaned on his breaking ball throwing it for 33 of his 73 pitches, because he did not have a great fastball (which he threw 34 times, with six sliders getting him up to 73).

“I had to rely on my curveball a lot, especially in that fifth inning. Backdooring curveballs to the lefties, and just making sure it was down to the righties,” Voth said. “But, I think I was able to get out of that inning just to kind of take a deep breath and then focus on location rather than trying to amp up and try to throw a harder pitch. That kind of helped me.”

What was working so well with the curve?

“Just locating it for strikes,” he said, “and then able to kind of expand and throw it in the dirt.

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“Once I was able to throw it for a strike, and umpire was giving me kind of a low strike zone today, I just kind of expanded the zone and threw it lower and they had to just either swing at it or lay off it, and I got a lot of swings and misses and a lot of fouled off pitches down in the zone, and that helped a lot.”