PITTSBURGH - Austin Voth was promoted from Triple-A Syracuse today for the fourth time this season. The right-hander has yet to actually make his major league debut, but it appears safe to say it’ll finally happen this time around.
Called up to swap roster spots with Jefry Rodriguez, who labored during Monday night’s 6-3 loss to the Pirates, Voth is tentatively slated to start Saturday against the Mets (the next time Rodriguez’s spot in the rotation comes up). However, it’s possible the Nationals will need his services sooner than that.
Given how much his bullpen has been taxed in the last week, manager Davey Martinez said Voth would be available to pitch in relief if needed before Saturday. Ideally, that won’t be the case, but the club can’t afford at this point to just assume relief help won’t be more pressing in the next few days.
Whenever it happens, Voth’s debut will be long-awaited. The 26-year-old, a fifth-round pick in the 2013 draft, has slowly made his way through the organization’s farm system since, waiting for his opportunity.
Voth thought it had happened on April 29, when the Nationals brought him up to supplement their bullpen after an extra-inning game against the Diamondbacks. When he wasn’t needed that day, though, he was optioned back to Syracuse.
Three weeks later, the Nationals designated Voth as their 26th man for a scheduled May 16 doubleheader against the Yankees (following the game that was suspended the previous night). But neither game was played that evening, so Voth again was sent back to Syracuse without setting foot on the field.
No worries, though, because the Nats and Yankees gathered again June 18 to resume the suspended game and play the other postponed game, and Voth again was designated as the 26th man. And once again, he didn’t pitch and was optioned back to Syracuse afterward.
Martinez promised the fourth time will be the charm.
“I would like to see him come up here and pitch,” the manager said. “He’s been up four times already and he hasn’t pitched yet. So he’s going to get an opportunity to pitch.”
Update: It’s been a long, slow night here at PNC Park, what with a 51-minute rain delay at the outset even though it never rained and the sky was never completely overcast. And once the game began, it slogged through its first few innings, no doubt in part because the Nationals kept giving themselves chances and failing to convert. They were 0-for-6 wtih runners in scoring position in the first two innings alone. But things have perked up since. That’s because Anthony Rendon sent a two-run homer over the wall in the deepest part of this ballpark (the notch in left-center field) in the top of the fifth. And because Jeremy Hellickson is pitching like early-season Jeremy Hellickson, with five scoreless innings so far on 67 pitches. Nats lead 2-0 as they head to the sixth.
Update II: With a tired bullpen, Martinez probably was tempted to let Hellickson face the Pirates lineup a third time tonight. But when the pitcher’s spot came up to bat with one out and the bases loaded in the top of the sixth, Martinez decided to go for the kill and sent Mark Reynolds up to pinch-hit. What happened next? How about a bases-loaded walk by Reynolds, an RBI single by Adam Eaton and another bases-loaded walk by Juan Soto. Just like that, it’s 5-0 Nats, but now they’ll need four innings from their bullpen to finish this one off.
Update III: The Pirates finally got on the board in the bottom of the seventh, the run scoring off Brandon Kintzler, but with an assist from Bryce Harper. Harper, who has struck out four times tonight, inexplicably fired a throw to third base after catching a line drive to center with a runner on second. The runner had no intention of tagging up, and Harper’s throw sailed to the dugout, letting him take third and eventually score. It’s 5-1 Nats after seven.
Update IV: Nats win, 5-1. Ryan Madson and Kelvin Herrera finished it out. They’ll go for the series victory Wednesday afternoon.