Voth emerging as rotation stalwart for O's

August 17th, 2022

TORONTO -- The lopsided loss and ’s numbers don’t look like they belong to the same box score.

Voth continued to deliver whatever the Orioles asked of him on Wednesday, pitching six shutout frames of two-hit ball as his team went for the sweep of the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. But Baltimore’s offense failed to reward the right-hander, instead getting no-hit through six innings of its 6-1 loss to the Blue Jays.

“We’re happy with the series win, but unhappy that we couldn’t finish it off today,” said Orioles manager Brandon Hyde. “Especially with a 0-0 game in the seventh.”

The vast majority of the game shaped up as an unusual pitching battle between two hurlers who have split their time between the rotation and the bullpen. To add to the strangeness of the moment, neither Voth nor Blue Jays starter Ross Stripling factored into the decision.

Things unraveled for the Orioles as soon as Voth departed after 86 pitches. The Blue Jays battered relievers Joey Krehbiel, Cionel Pérez and Louis Head for six runs in the seventh inning, an uncharacteristic meltdown from a group that has been a staple of consistency this season.

The same was true for the lineup, which didn’t reach base until Cedric Mullins slapped a single in the top of the seventh to break up Stripling’s perfect-game bid. It was an awkward way to close out the series victory after harmonious wins on Monday and Tuesday.

“That’s going to happen, you know?” said Hyde. “Our bullpen has been doing extremely well. Besides that inning, we’ve pitched so well this series, we’re happy with how we played. Today is disappointing, but we got out of here with a series win.”

Very little seemed to click for the Orioles in the series finale, but Voth emerged as a valuable silver lining. The 30-year-old posted season highs in innings and pitches, holding off a powerful Blue Jays lineup with command and a clever pitch mix.

He has been a transformed pitcher since being claimed off waivers from the Nationals in early June.

“I just kind of found my feet here,” said Voth of his time with the Orioles. “They’ve got a great club, great players, great staff. I’m just happy to be here.”

There have been several peripheral changes since Voth was let go by the Nationals and joined Baltimore: Voth has tweaked his day-to-day preparation and put new emphasis on how he applies data into game situations. He has even developed a sweeping slider to add to his four-seamer, cutter and curveball as a way to give himself some horizontal run that has wreaked havoc for right-handed hitters.

But no change has been more beneficial to Voth than sliding into the Orioles’ starting rotation.

“I prefer to be in the starting rotation, I prefer to be out there as long as I can,” said Voth. “Relieving definitely has its advantages, but I prefer to be a starter, and I take pride in being able to hopefully continue to go deep in games.”

Voth hadn’t made a start with the Nationals before being DFA’d this season, and he landed with the Orioles with a 10.13 ERA. Since then, he has posted a 3.21 ERA in a variety of roles on a surging Baltimore club.

His move to the rotation came out of necessity, when Kyle Bradish and Tyler Wells landed on the IL in July. Bradish is healthy and back in the mix, but it seems imprudent to move Voth back to the bullpen.

Entering Wednesday, Voth had a 3.22 ERA in nine starts with the Orioles, holding opponents to a .234 batting average and a .652 OPS. His relief appearances, on the other hand, have yielded an 8.51 ERA with a .944 opponent’s OPS.

And he’s still building up his endurance in the transition to a starter’s role.

“For him to get to the sixth inning mark was big for us and for him,” said Hyde. “Hopefully he can continue to build, because he’s done a great job for us. He’s been doing it since he got here.”

His last two starts haven’t been short on tension, either. Before dealing in the Orioles’ loss to the Blue Jays, Voth faced the Rays on Friday, carrying a perfect game through five innings against another American League Wild Card and AL East opponent.

Embracing the big moments has been another step in his late transformation.

“You just have the mentality to keep it one pitch at a time,” said Voth. “I can only control what I can control on that mound. If you keep going out there and putting up zeros, then you give your team a chance.”