Right-hander Austin Voth has continued repeating his changeup delivery into the offseason, determined to keep the muscle memory in place since his success with the pitch at the end of the Arizona Fall League.
“Right now, I’m just playing catch, coming back in from long tossing,” Voth said. “I will throw it at a long distance from 120 (feet) and air it out. And then when I come in to 90 feet, I’ll work on hitting the spot or work on feeling comfortable with the grip, trying to get it to go the other way.”
Voth uses the changeup to keep the hitter off balance, away from keying in on his fastball. But Glendale pitching coach Sam Narron noticed during Arizona Fall League play that Voth is doing very well with his curveball. Voth sees that he is now getting better tilt on the curveball, a critical pitch in his arsenal.
“I definitely saw some strides this season,” Voth noted. “At the beginning of the season, I didn’t really change anything about my grip. But I was getting more of a 12-6 curveball compared to a slurve curveball, which in the past my curveball has been more of a slurve/slider-type deal.
“I really worked on trying to get on top of the ball almost to create so much RPMs or spin on it. And you can see it in some of my videos of some of my starts of how sharp some of my breaking balls can be at times, and I can have more control, which is huge.”
Now with the fastball, curveball and changeup all clicking, Voth has done a nice job of battling through counts that are favorable to the hitters: 2-0 and 3-1.
“I feel more confident with three pitches than just a fastball, curveball,” Voth said. “I’m not very comfortable with the change, but now that I have three pitches, I’m more comfortable throwing my changeup in an even count or a behind count or even with my curveball at times depending on who the hitter is and who’s on base, how many outs I’ve got. I’m definitely more comfortable throwing my off-speed pitches now compared to earlier in my career.”
Voth felt that his season at Triple-A Syracuse, where he made 25 starts, also boosted his confidence that he can be successful at the big league level.
“There’s a lot of veterans, a lot of former big leaguers that are playing in the International League and they’re just trying to make it up to the bigs again,” Voth said. “So you’re facing a lot of guys that have been there and have experience, and for me to get some of them out and have success is huge for me. There’s a decent amount of failure, but I feel like for the most part, I did a pretty good job settling in.”
Plus, with the trades of Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Dane Dunning, the door opens for the likes of Voth, Erick Fedde and A.J. Cole to get more opportunities with the Nationals in regular season games.
“Sure, it just kind of shows that I guess they have a lot of confidence in me and some of the other pitchers in our organization because we traded away basically our top three pitching prospects,” Voth said. “It gives me a ton of confidence knowing that I’ll get opportunities possibly if I perform well. I just got to stick to what I’ve been doing the last couple of years and keep grinding.”
Because of his recent experience and success at Triple-A and Arizona, Voth is now well on his way to making that breakthrough to his first start with the Nationals this season.