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40 in 40: Is Austin Voth another sweeper sleeper?

Can the Mariners help Voth develop his sweeper to be an effective arm out of the bullpen?

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at San Francisco Giants John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

I know you all have been clamoring for a 40 in 40 on everyone’s favorite player, the biggest addition to this team, Austin Voth. Voth has been a journeyman reliever type for both the Washington Nationals and the Baltimore Orioles so far in his big league career, though he has yet to impress significantly at either stop (He finished with a 5.19 ERA in 2023). Ideally, the Seattle Mariners picking Voth up is a sign that there is something lying underneath that the average layperson might be too counting-stat-pilled to understand. Or maybe it’s that Voth is a UW alum (Go Dawgs), and they felt like it was time to bring a native son home. Regardless, Let’s take a closer look at what Voth could offer the Mariners moving into the season.

Voth did not pitch enough innings to qualify for most tracking on Baseball Savant, not to say the data isn’t there. The site just makes a point of telling you he technically doesn’t qualify because of the small sample size. Additionally, Voth’s counting stats, as I said before, are nothing to write home about. 24 innings pitched, 5.19 ERA in 2023 with an 80 ERA+. In fact, just about the only thing of note about Voth is that he has added a pitch to his repertoire in the past two seasons that he incorporated more heavily in 2023: a sweeper.

While the pitch is relatively new to Voth, he has thrown it with a solid degree of success. Combining it with a solid fastball and a strong curveball could keep hitters from sitting on Voth’s more hittable repertoire, With an 18% whiff% and .266 batting average against, there’s nothing to suggest that Voth’s sweeper is going to be the second coming of Matt Brash (more on him tomorrow). If there is a standout trait in Voth’s sweeper, it is that the pitch is particularly flat among its kind, with very little drop, providing a more dramatic full horizontal sweep at times. Nothing screams off the page, but Voth’s overall repertoire is encouraging enough for the Mariners to see if they can tweak him into a solid relief pitcher.

With the departure of Marco Gonzales, Robbie Ray, and Anthony DeSclafani, however, there is additional pressure on Voth. He is, after all, the rare big league free agent signee by Seattle in the Dipoto era. His starting background has him near or at the top of Seattle’s 6th starter depth chart, jockeying for position with Emerson Hancock, Darren McCaughan, and the rest of the Tacoma Rainiers future rotation. The edge for Voth is a track record of non-catastrophe at the big league level, alongside a penchant for avoiding free passes. The sweeper is Voth’s newest weapon, but there may be further tweaks still needed for Voth to handle a larger role, as he still struggles with stymying lefties. Ideally, however, Voth is called upon for 1-2 innings at a time predominantly, allowing him to focus on refining his off-speed further for the M’s as a bridge to the beastly back end of the bullpen.