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Washington Nationals’ Austin Voth on 2021 role; liking his last outing + more...

Austin Voth looks like he’s lined up to be a long man out of the bullpen for the 2021 Nationals...

In his fifth outing, and second start, of the spring on Saturday night, Austin Voth tossed four scoreless innings on 68 pitches, walking three, and striking out five, leaving him with a 4.50 ERA and a .317 BAA in 10 innings of work in Grapefruit League action.

Voth, 28, came into Spring Training battling for the fifth spot in Washington’s rotation, but it is increasingly looking like Joe Ross will claim that spot with Voth, who has no options left, in the bullpen as a long-man, and Erick Fedde, the other pitcher considered a contender for the fifth spot this spring, back at Triple-A since he has an option remaining.

“I feel like I put myself in a position to either be the fifth starter or go into the bullpen, you know, or be whatever they need me to be,” Voth said when asked after his latest outing if he felt he’d done enough this spring to make the Nationals’ Opening Day roster.

Manager Davey Martinez said on Saturday afternoon that he thought all three of the starters mentioned above would end up playing a role at some in the 2021 campaign.

“Somewhere along the line, they’re going to be needed,” he explained, “and you saw that in past history, that these guys all potentially help us win games throughout the season.”

“With that being said,” Martinez continued, “... they’re out there competing. It’s going to be a tough decision, obviously. But when that decision is made, that’s the guy we are going to go with and the other guys will fit in however we need them.”

Voth said that he understands it makes sense to continue to stretch him out as a starter this spring so that he’s ready for any role he’s asked to fill.

“I mean, yeah, it’s good for me to get stretched out,” he said, “because if I’m probably in the pen I’ll be the long guy, so I’m going to need to go at least two or three innings depending on the situation of the game and stuff like that.”

Martinez liked what he saw from the 28-year-old right-hander in this latest outing, after his velocity, which was back up in the mid-90s early this spring, dropped some in his previous outing.

“His velo was good,” the manager said. “He pumped strikes early in the count. I just want him to start finishing hitters in 3-4 pitches. That’s the goal. He gets ahead of hitters and then next thing you know it’s 2-2, 3-2.

“We want to see him go out and attack the strike zone when he’s ahead, and try to finish hitters early in the counts.

“Overall he threw up zeroes and he threw the ball well. I was very happy that his velo was up at 94 again, that’s a good sign.”

“I felt good today,” Voth said. “Saw that the velo was up and was able to get to 65 or 68 pitches or something like that, and four innings, it was good to get built up for sure.”

“Probably my best outing feeling-wise, stuff-wise,” he added.

“I felt like I was for the most part under control, had some bad misses, but it’s still Spring Training, I’m still working out all the kinks.”