The Nationals activated Max Scherzer today from the paternity list after his wife gave birth to their second child yesterday. Scherzer is expected to make his last start of the first half today wearing the Expos’ powder blue road jersey against the Royals.
Current fifth starter Austin Voth, meanwhile, has been sent to Double-A Harrisburg. The Nationals have a bizarre minor league setup in that the closeness of Harrisburg has been utilized all season to keep major-league-ready players nearby for quick activation, rather than sending them cross-country to their Triple-A affiliate in Fresno.
Voth took three turns through the rotation, holding his own while also struggling to clamp down and finish a third time through the order. He did not take a decision, lasting less than five innings apiece in his final two starts after a strong season debut against Atlanta. He heads to Harrisburg with a 5.52 ERA after showing strong stuff with 9.8 K/9 and a fastball that routinely hit 95mph, but five walks tanked his final two outings and the Nats ultimately went on to lose all three games that he started.
The Nationals will not need a fifth starter until July 17th, MASN’s Mark Zuckerman tweets, so the Nats have some time before they need to decide whether Voth will reclaim the role. Erick Fedde had occupied the spot before Voth, while Jeremy Hellickson remains out for the foreseeable future after being moved to the 60-day IL with right shoulder stiffness. Both Fedde and Voth pitched well enough at times to earn consideration for further evaluation, though Voth’s peripherals and fairly substantive year-over-year jump in velocity (from 91.3 mph to 93 mph) may signal a more compelling arsenal.
Still, neither outright staked their claim to the job, and with the Nationals back in the heat of a playoff race, they could look elsewhere to find a more established fifth option for their already-stacked rotation.