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Erick Fedde keeps Washington Nationals in game vs Chicago Cubs; Nats rally late to take series finale in Wrigley....

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Dusty Baker and Matt Wieters talked after today’s game about the work Erick Fedde did against the Cubs in his second major league start...

Washington Nationals v Chicago Cubs Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Top Nationals’ pitching prospect Erick Fedde, 24, averaged 94-96 mph with his sinker in his major league debut against Colorado last Sunday in the nation’s capital.

Fedde mixed in a splitter (87-90 mph), and a slider (81-84 mph) against the Rockies, generating six swinging strikes, and throwing 40 of 87 pitches for strikes not put in play, according to Brooksbaseball.net.

Before he made his first start for Washington in D.C., GM Mike Rizzo talked to reporters about the right-hander’s developing ability to get strikes in the zone as being one of the bigger improvements at Triple-A Syracuse that convinced him the 2014 1st Round pick was ready to make the jump.

“We feel he’s able to get guys out now in the strike zone, which was something we wanted him to do,” Rizzo explained, as quoted by MASN’s Byron Kerr.

“That’s the reason we sent him to Triple-A. In Double-A, he was getting guys out outside the strike zone, and in Triple A, he was able to make that adjustment.”

In spite of the less-than-impressive line in the loss to the Rockies, Fedde said he was happy with the start overall.

“I’m definitely not happy with the results, but I felt like my stuff was pretty good,” he explained after the outing.

Washington Nationals v Chicago Cubs Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

This afternoon within the ivy-covered brick walls of Chicago’s Wrigley Field, Fedde met up with another tough opponent, taking on the defending World Series Champion and current NL Central-leading Cubs in his second major league start.

Fedde came out dealing, working quickly and retiring the Cubs in order in a 12-pitch first, mixing in a bunch of changeups and curves early: five curves (78-80 mph), four sinkers (94-95), and three changeups (88-89) in the first.

Willson Contreras took a backdoor, 3-2 curve for a called strike three and the first out of the Cubs’ second. Fedde got up 1-2 with a sinker down the pipe to Kyle Schwarber, and after just missing outside with another backdoor bender, threw a sinker inside for a called strike three and out No. 2.

Ian Happ sliced a two-out single over shortstop Wilmer Difo on a first-pitch sinker for the first hit off of the Nats’ starter, and Jason Heyward shot a grounder through the right side of the infield to put two on with two out in front of Javier Baez, who connected for the third straight hit, sending a 95 mph 2-2 sinker back up the middle for an RBI single and a 1-0 lead at the end of a 25-pitch second.

With the score tied at 1-1 after two and a half, Kris Bryant reached on a swinging bunt with one down in the Cubs’ third, in spite of Fedde’s considerable effort on the play, but Anthony Rizzo sent a grounder to Ryan Zimmerman at first base to start an inning-ending 3-6-3 DP in the next AB. The eight-pitch frame for Fedde left him at 45 pitches total after three.

Fedde’s 49th pitch of the game almost left the yard, as Willson Contreras hit his ninth homer since the break (and 20th HR overall in 2017) out to left field on a 1-2 change, knee-high inside, 2-1 Cubbies.

Fedde got Jason Heyward swinging with a sharp 3-2 curveball for the second out of the Cubs’ fourth, with a runner on second, and after an intentional pass to Javier Baez, he struck out the opposing pitcher, Jon Lester, to end a 28-pitch fourth that left him at 53 pitches total.

Kris Bryant took a 3-0 sinker for a called strike, but spit on a fastball off the outside edge and took a one-out walk from Fedde in the fifth, but Anthony Rizzo sent a 1-2 sinker outside to third to start an inning-ending 5-6-3 DP. The ten-pitch frame left Fedde at 83 total after five.

Willson Contreras got Fedde again in the sixth, hitting his second home run of the day, his third of the series, and his 21st of 2017 out to left field on a 94 mph 0-1 sinker that sailed into the stands.

Kyle Schwarber made it back-to-back blasts with an opposite field HR to left field, 4-1, on a 2-2 curve from Fedde.

A one-out “double” on a grounder to second that Daniel Murphy couldn’t handle, and an intentional walk to Javier Baez, ended Fedde’s day after 99 pitches...

Erick Fedde’s Line: 5.1 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 4 BB, 7 Ks, 3 HRs, 99 P, 64 S, 7/0 GO/FO.

Fedde got 12 swinging strikes on the day, five of them with his sinker, four with the changeup and three of them with his curve, threw 64 of 99 pitches for strikes (65%), and 49 of 99 pitches for strikes not put in play according to Brooksbaseball.net.

He left the game with the Nationals behind 4-1 in the sixth, but they rallied late and took the series finale in Wrigley Field, 9-4.

“Fedde battled for us today,” Matt Wieters (who hit a go-ahead grand slam) told MASN’s Dan Kolko after the game.

“[He] had a couple of home runs, but other than that he threw the ball great.”

“I like the way Fedde gave us a chance to come back,” Baker told reporters after the Nationals took two of three from the Cubs.

“Fedde had a very good breaking ball from the beginning where last time he didn’t have a very good breaking ball,” Baker added, “... and he had a good breaking ball, he usually commands his fastball. He got one changeup up to Contreras, but he had him I think 1-2, and you know, Wieters directed him through the game, and he continues to use all his pitches, not just his fastball like most young pitchers do, and like I said, he had a very good [breaking ball].”

Asked if the right-hander was gassed late when the Cubs got to him in the sixth, Baker said he thought it was more a case of the opposition getting a look at him.

“They hadn’t seen him before, and that second and third time around, a lot of times if you haven’t seen a guy then you get an idea what he’s doing,” he explained.

“I don’t know if he matched their pitcher’s beginning, because he struck out the side and had a whole bunch of strikeouts early, but he kept us in the game and gave us a chance to win.”