Austin Voth earned the fifth spot in the rotation in Spring Training 1.0 and 2.0, but it hasn’t gone well for the 28-year-old right-hander in his first six starts of the 2020 campaign. And it’s gotten progressively worse, unfortunately, with the Washington Nationals’ 2013 5th Rd pick (0-3) with a 12.51 ERA and a .422/.507/.781 line against in his last four outings after he made two respectable five-inning starts his first two times out this season.
Voth talked after giving up six hits (two of them home runs) and five runs total in two innings on the mound agains the Red Sox in Boston’s Fenway Park last weekend, about the work he has been doing between starts to try to get things right and turn his season around before a move is made.
“I’ve been getting on the mound every single time,” Voth told reporters. “I throw every day. Just kind of going through my mechanics, slowing it down, trying to feel things out, and just trying to figure things out on my own with [Pitching Coach] Paul [Menhart], talking to Max [Scherzer] sometimes, talking to my bullpen catchers and what they’re seeing and whatnot, that’s kind of been my strategy.”
The focus, Voth said, was less on trying to regain some velocity, which is down a tick like a lot of pitchers’ velo is this season, but more on his spin rate.
“It’s more about me throwing through the catcher and making sure that I’m spinning the ball right,” he explained. “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.”
His manager said after that outing in Boston that they needed to, “reassess what’s going on with him.”
“He’s just falling behind. I don’t think he’s pitching aggressive enough,” Davey Martinez said.
“I’m going to talk to him again and see where we’re at, but we need to get more out of him.”
“We’ve got to keep working on it,” Martinez said earlier this week, updating reporters as to where things stood in the back end of the rotation.
Asked what Voth could do in terms of improving his spin rate, Martinez said it was tied to Voth’s mechanics.
“That comes with a lot of — sometimes you tweak your mechanics to get your spin rate back, when you’re not using your lower-half, or your arm angle has changed a little bit, so these are the things — he’s going to throw a bullpen today and I’m going to go out there hopefully after this and see what’s going on and then we’ll see if we have to make any adjustments again.”
On Thursday afternoon, before the finale with the Philadelphia Phillies in Citizens Bank Park, Martinez said Voth would get another start in today’s doubleheader.
“Austin Voth will start the first game, the second game will be Wil Crowe. He’ll be the 29th man. I have confidence in Voth. We made him the fifth starter. Like I said, he’s gone through a funk, I watched his bullpen the other day, we worked on some things, so hopefully he goes out there and with a seven-inning game, if he can give us 4-5 good innings, we should be in good shape. So, I just want him to be more — they talked to him a lot about being more aggressive in the strike zone, not to nitpick too much.
“Just go after hitters. They’re up there too, they’ve got a bat, their job is to try to hit. So, just be aggressive and make your pitches and see how far we can go.”