On Tuesday afternoon, the Baltimore Orioles made a couple of roster moves. After optioning Marcos Diplán to Norfolk on Monday, they had an open spot on the active roster, which they used to activate Chris Owings from the bereavement list.
They also made an external addition, claiming RHP Austin Voth off waivers from the Washington Nationals. To make room on the 40 man roster, Cody Sedlock was designated for assignment. With Voth being a new addition to the Baltimore Orioles pitching staff, I thought I’d take some time to examine Voth’s statistics to date, and what his role might be with the Orioles going forward.
As of now, the current idea is to keep Voth in the bullpen, with him giving manager Brandon Hyde a long relief option to start off with. If that goes well, Hyde did mention the possibility of moving him into the rotation, with Hyde saying this on Tuesday afternoon:
"“It’s a guy that’s given innings out of the ‘pen in his career, spot started at times, been a starter. You’re always looking for starting pitching right now, and we’ll bring him here and see what he can do, and hopefully he can give us some length out of the bullpen to start off with.”"
With the arrival of Voth, there was some speculation that it might change Keegan Akin’s role, as both Voth and Akin can fill long reliever roles out of the bullpen. However, the Baltimore Orioles manager said it wouldn’t change Akin’s role, with Hyde offering his thoughts on two long relievers:
"“I think adding another guy that can give you innings out of the bullpen is a real positive. Now, you have a left-handed and a right-handed long man. I think that’s extremely beneficial.”“We’re going to need innings. Pitching is at a premium right now, and somebody that can give us major league innings out of the ‘pen or the rotation is going to be really key for us until the end of the year.”"
So far, in his career, Voth has appeared in parts of 5 major league seasons, all spent with the Nationals. In his career, Voth has a 9-8 record with a 5.70 ERA and 1.453 WHIP, throwing 181 2/3 innings, split between 22 starts and 70 relief appearances. This season, Voth currently has a 10.13 ERA in 19 total appearances, before the Nationals designated him for assignment.
Now, those surface numbers don’t look pretty. I took a look at his advanced metrics as well, and those aren’t too good either. His walk percentage and average exit velocity are in the 71st and 72nd percentile respectively, and his curveball spin and fastball spin both earn high marks as well.
However, that’s where the positives end with Voth’s metrics. His whiff percentage is only in the 25th percentile, and his chase rate is in the 9th percentile, so he’s not missing very many bats when he generates swings from opposing hitters. His expected batting average(xBA), is only in the second percentile, so the expected batting average of opposing hitters when they make contact is a very high number.
Piggybacking off his poor expected batting average, his expected slugging percentage is also awfully low, sitting in the 7th percentile, and his expected ERA is in the 6th percentile. That means, opposing hitters have high expected slugging percentages when they get a hit off Voth, and his expected ERA isn’t much different than his actual 10.13 ERA this season.
Yes, it’s true, Austin Voth has not had a whole lot of good moments in the major leagues. But, his addition gives the Baltimore Orioles experienced and important major league innings, whether it is in the bullpen or the rotation. And, with the Orioles in the state of the rebuild that they are in, it’s worth taking a shot on a waiver claim like Voth, because he could turn into a diamond in the rough.