Over the next several weeks, Camden Chat staff members are reviewing the 2023 Orioles player each day to see how the season went for each of them.
When history recalls the surprising 101-win Orioles, Keegan Akin and Austin Voth won’t be high on the list of players remembered fondly. In fact, if sometime next spring you happen upon a Sporcle quiz challenging you to name every member of the 2023 team, it’s likely you’ll forget these two even though the season was less than a year ago.
But Akin and Voth were both there and they actually had eerily similar seasons. They broke camp with the team and were on the roster on Opening Day as relief pitchers. Voth appeared in 25 games; Akin 24. Neither was very good. Both were injured midseason and ended up on the 60-Day IL. And as far as I’m concerned, neither will be on the team in 2024.
Austin Voth (RHP)
Voth actually came into 2023 with some expectations. He was surprisingly good in 2022, pitching to a 3.04 ERA / 126 ERA+ in a partial season with 17 starts. These excellent numbers didn’t jive with the rest of his career, so it seemed likely that he’d see regression in 2023 despite changes he had made in his pitching. And boy did he regress.
ZiPS projected that Voth would pitch to a 4.62 ERA across 14 starts. In his pre-season post on Voth, my colleague John Beers laid out the best and worst-case scenarios for Voth’s season and Camden Chat readers were optimistic. 72% of voters in the story’s poll predicted that Voth would outpitch his projections. Those voters were wrong. Voth ended the season with a 5.19 ERA and didn’t make a single start.
After spending time in the rotation in 2022, when Voth was sent to the bullpen I assumed he’d play the role of bulk reliever, but early on he was pretty much a one-inning guy. His season got off to a ridiculous start as he surrendered one home run in each of his first five appearances. That is not going to earn a lot of goodwill!
Post-early-season dinger spree, Voth shaped up a bit and had stretches of reliability out of the pen. But he blew up just often enough that there was little confidence from the fans when he would come into the game. And unlike so many relief pitchers these days, he is not a flamethrower. His fastball averages just over 93 mph.
On June 13th, after a 17-game stretch without giving a home run, Voth gave up a home run. He pitched just one-third of an inning in that game against the Blue Jays in what was thankfully a blowout win for the Orioles. Voth gave up a solo home run and allowed four baserunners before he was pulled.
One day later he was put on the injured list with right elbow discomfort. He stayed on the IL for over 70 days before being activated in late August. But if anyone was hoping for a triumphant return, it did not happen. Voth appeared in just two games before being optioned down to Triple-A Norfolk.
Voth’s final pitching stats for the 2023 Orioles were: 25 G, 0 GS, 34.2 IP, 5.18 ERA, 5.10 FIP. In his final appearance gave up three runs in 1.2 innings pitched. He was then designated for assignment, cleared waivers, and accepted a spot with Norfolk. After the season ended, Voth elected to become a free agent. I don’t expect we’ll see him in an Orioles uniform again.
Keegan Akin (LHP)
After over a year in the majors as mostly a starting pitcher, Akin made the move to the bullpen for the 2022 season and it seemed like where he was meant to be. His stats improved across the board as he cut his ERA in half, lowered his walks, and raised his strikeouts. He was a wonder against lefties that year, holding them to a .445 OPS.
It stood to reason that Akin could spend 2023 doing similar things in the bullpen, but it didn’t work out that way at all. Like Voth, Akin had stretches of decent games but he was never able to get into a dominant run. When he didn’t give up runs he still allowed baserunners as evidenced by his 1.775 WHIP.
As such, Akin was used mostly in low-leverage situations in 2023. He just couldn’t be trusted. His ERA truly ballooned over his final four games of the season in which he gave up 10 earned runs in just four innings. Those games came in a stretch from June 21-28.
On June 29th, the Orioles placed Akin on the IL with lower back discomfort. After about a month, he started to rehab in the minors. He pitched in six games before being shut down again. He was moved to the 60-day IL on August 23rd. That is where he remains today.
Given Akin’s performance in 2023 and the fact that he is due to reach arbitration this offseason, it seems unlikely that the Orioles will return Akin to the 40-man roster once they can’t hide him on the 60-day injured list over the offseason. Akin has not done much to warrant a spot on the team next season, although stranger things have happened.
Ultimately I don’t expect either Austin Voth or Keegan Akin to be on the 2024 Orioles. The bullpen had its troubles from time to time this season, but neither Akin nor Voth are the answer to that problem.
Tomorrow: Adam Frazier