Washington Nationals’ Assistant GM and VP of Scouting Kris Kline compared righty Erick Fedde to a one-time Cy Young Award winner on the night of the Draft in 2014 when asked if the Nats’ top pick that June reminded him of anyone.
“He doesn't throw anything straight,” Kline began as he described Fedde’s stuff.
“A lot of life, very heavy. Above-average slider, up to 88, and the makings and flashes of an above-average changeup. A lot of strikes. Very competitive guy. Looks a lot like, if you guys remember Jack McDowell, body-type, delivery, that type of thing with a little more fastball."
Dusty Baker, after getting a good look at the 18th overall pick of the 2014 Draft this Spring, compared Fedde to another former Cy Young winner, LA Dodgers and Oakland Athletics’ right-hander Bob Welch, who took home the AL Cy Young as a 33-year-old, 27-game winner in 1990.
Baker, according to Washington Post writer Jorge Castillo, said in March that, “Fedde’s lankiness, the way he throws downhill, and his competitiveness reminded him of Welch, who played with Baker for the Dodgers,” from 1978-83.
“I hate to make comparisons, but he reminds me of a young Bob Welch at that point,” Baker said, as quoted by MASN’s Pete Kerzel.
“He has that long body, throwing downhill. Seems like he’s highly competitive.”
Baker’s advice before Fedde made his MLB debut in D.C. against the Colorado Rockies on Sunday afternoon?
“I just told him throw strikes,” Baker said. “When I first met him, I said, ‘Hey, man, you remind me of Bob Welch.’ Built like him, kind of acts like him, and that was one of my closest teammates.
“And he said that, ‘I hate walking people,’ and I was like, ‘Okay, well you’re already halfway there to me.”
In the first inning of his major league debut, Fedde loaded the bases with no one out on two two-strike singles and a walk, but got a 4-6-3 DP, on which a run scored, and — after a two-out RBI single — a force at second to limit the damage in what ended up a 20-pitch opening frame.
Fedde came out calmer in the second, and threw an 0-2 fastball on the outside edge by Trevor Story for his first MLB strikeout... then threw a 2-2 slider by Ryan Hanigan.
As the MASN broadcast noted, Fedde threw first-pitch strikes to the first ten batters he faced, striking out the side in a 15-pitch second when he caught the opposing pitcher, Kyle Freeland, looking with a 96 mph 2-2 fastball belt-high inside on the edge of the plate.
Charlie Blackmon (2 for 2) lined a 1-1 fastball to center to start the third, and the Rockies’ outfielder scored from first on a double to the right-center gap by DJ LeMahieu (2 for 2), as the Rockies’ took a 3-1 lead.
LeMahieu scored on a 6-3 DP grounder to make it 4-1 at the end of a 24-pitch frame that left Fedde at 59 total after three.
Four hits, a walk, and three runs in the fourth put the Rockies up 7-4 after the Nats rallied to tie it at 4-4 in the bottom of the third.
Fedde’s 28-pitch fourth was his last inning of work: 4.0 IP, 10 H, 7 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 3 Ks, 87 P, 57 S, 7/0 GO/FO.
Fedde featured a four-seam fastball (93-95 mph), and two-seamer (94-96), and mixed in a changeup (87-89), and slider (82-84).
“I think what he gave us was better than his results were,” Baker told reporters after what ended up a 10-6 loss.
“I’m definitely not happy with the results,” Fedde said.
“But I felt like my stuff was pretty good, and I guess a lot of balls landed in good spots for them, but it’s one where I still need to make better pitches and get better results.”
“They scored those first couple runs on a couple soft singles,” Baker explained.
“He threw strikes for the most part. He had the one dynamite inning. It was a matter of -- it was too much of the top of the order — cause that’s who really hurt him, Blackmon, LeMahieu and the top of the order up there, cause they got on to start the inning twice, and that makes for a difficult time.”
“Those guys are obviously the best in the world for a reason,” Fedde acknowledged when asked about the step up in the level of competition, and the two-strike hits.
“That’s something I can do a better job at, executing two-strike pitches, and that was something that hurt me today.”
“He threw some quality sinkers,” Baker added, “for some double plays, but that was his first time out and if we had to pick a first time out for him, probably wouldn’t have picked Colorado, it’s just how it was — cause Colorado can hit. I think they’re second in the league in hitting behind us and second in the league in runs scored, so we’re pretty even hitting-wise. That was a tough assignment, but I think he’ll be better next time.”
Baker was impressed with the way Fedde handled it all.
“He seemed sort of unfazed by the situations, especially when he had bases loaded and nobody out,” and was able to get the double play to limit the damage.
Fedde said the whole experience became real when he went out to the bullpen to get warmed up before the game.
“I was a little nervous. Once I got out into the pen, you could see the whole stadium, it was pretty exciting. Once I got out there it seemed to go away pretty quickly, so, but it was enjoyable just getting ready for the game.”
What’s next? Baker was asked after Edwin Jackson went seven strong in the night half of Sunday’s doubleheader how things would line up since Fedde and Jackson were on the same schedule.
“We’re going to try to split them, like we had it working earlier,” Baker said. “We split guys that had a reputation of going deep into the game followed by a guy that might not go as deep so you don’t have to put as much pressure on your bullpen in consecutive days. So we’ll figure out how to do that on the road.”
So, for now Fedde is staying in the majors? He came up to take Stephen Strasburg’s turn in the rotation when Strasburg landed on the DL (with a nerve impingement in his right elbow), but the ‘09 No. 1 pick threw a bullpen without issues on Saturday.
So what will the Nationals do?
“Well, we don’t know exactly. We haven’t decided because we don’t really know if we want to bring Stras back into action right away. And so it might help, he said he’s feeling pretty good and we want him to feel great. And so right now we don’t know.”