Voth takes important step in five-inning start

Had things played out the way the Nationals wanted them to Saturday night, we’d be talking this morning about Austin Voth’s impressive start. Of course, by the end of a disastrous, 5-3 loss to the Orioles, Voth’s outing was an afterthought, bumped by Sean Doolittle and Daniel Hudson’s eighth-inning meltdown.

In the bigger picture, though, Voth’s performance was significant. The second-year starter continues to show he has the stuff to be effective at this level. He just needs to show he can sustain that success deeper into his outings.

And though Saturday’s start was capped at five innings, the way Voth finished that fifth inning was a big step in the right direction.

Voth-Fires-White-vs-Jays-Sidebar.jpgAfter cruising through his first four innings on 47 pitches, Voth looked like he might hit a wall in the fifth. His fastball velocity began to drop, and after a leadoff walk and a line drive single, he found himself in his first jam of the game.voth

He got through it, though, by turning to his curveball, which he used to strike out Chance Sisco. He then got Dwight Smith Jr. to popout before battling back from a 3-0 count to strike out Chris Davis with a fastball on his 73rd and final pitch of the night.

“I think I was able to get out of the inning by taking a deep breath and just focusing on location,” he said, “rather than trying to amp up and throw a harder pitch. That kind of helped me.”

The Nationals are hoping Voth’s stamina will improve as he now gets into a more consistent, five-day routine. He threw 70 pitches in his season debut against the Blue Jays but then had to wait 11 days to make his second start.

With the team now in the middle of a 13-day stretch of scheduled games, Voth will get an opportunity to stay on a routine and build up his arm.

“We watch him, and all of a sudden his velo drops tremendously,” manager Davey Martinez said. “He went from 92 (mph) to 88-89, and then his balls got up. So we just have to keep an eye on that. But he does well for five innings. We’ve just got to build him up.”

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