Erick Fedde returned from a two-month stint on the Disabled List to make a five-inning start against the St. Louis Cardinals last week, giving up four hits, two walks, and four runs in an 11-8 loss in the nation’s capital in which he received no decision. The runs he allowed were scored in the second, and he wrapped up his return to Washington’s rotation with three scoreless on the mound.
Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez said things changed for Fedde when he started to work off his fastball.
“I told him, at one point,” Martinez explained, “he threw — he had 50-something pitches, he threw 29 sliders, curveballs, sliders, and he came in between innings and I said, ‘You have to throw your fastball. You have to establish your fastball. You can’t keep throwing sliders, falling behind, that’s not who you are.’ And he went back out there and I think the next inning he threw like 9 or 11 pitches, something like that, fastballs, all fastballs. I said, ‘Yeah, use it. You’ve got a good one. Your ball sinks, cuts, just use your fastball,’ and he went out there and did that and pitched well.”
Fedde threw a lot of fastballs early in his start in Citizens Bank Park on Tuesday afternoon as well, and he struck out five of the first 13 batters he faced in four scoreless frames, then struck out two more (for seven total) in a scoreless fifth, after he had picked up his first hit in the majors and scored the Nationals’ second run in the top of the frame, 2-0.
Two more strikeouts in the sixth gave him nine total from 18 batters faced, and Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez left him in to face Rhys Hoskins after a two-out single on his 93rd pitch, but Fedde walked the Philly slugger to put two runners on with his 100th and final offering.
Erick Fedde’s Line: 5.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 9 Ks, 100 P, 56 S, 6/1 GO/FO.
The runners he left on were stranded, so Fedde finished the day with 5 2⁄3 scoreless over which he allowed just two hits and two walks.
Fedde threw 57 sinkers overall, 27 of them for strikes, and he got 17 swings and six swinging strikes with the pitch, mixing in 17 sliders (12 strikes, eight swings, five whiffs), a four-seam fastball, curve, cutter, and splitter.
“He was attacking the strike zone,” Davey Martinez said after the Nationals’ win. “He was really good. Kept the ball down and used all his pitches.”
Fedde told reporters, as quoted by MLB.com’s Jamal Collier, that the fastball, in particular, was what set everything else up.
“It’s funny because a lot of guys tell me that,” Fedde said. “[Stephen Strasburg] has been really big on it. He’s like, ‘Dude, throw your fastball more,’ and [Nationals manager Dave Martinez has] been pushing it hard.
“Today, I definitely think everything played off of it. It just kind of opened up my slider, and really, I think guys were surprised by the cutter.”
Fedde threw 11 cutters total, nine for strikes, eight of which were strikes not put in play.
“He was good,” Martinez said. The manager went out to talk to Fedde after the starter gave up a single in his next-to-last at bat just to see what the right-hander had left.
“I wanted to give him a chance to go out there and face Hoskins, that last batter, and he said he felt great and he was throwing the ball well. He did really well. Really well.”
Did Fedde have to convince the manager to leave him in against Hoskins, the potential tying run at that point?
“No,” Martinez said. “I asked him, I said, ‘What do you got?’ And I said, “It’s about time I treat you like a big boy.’
“And he said, ‘I want to get him out.’ I said, ‘Well, it’s your game, c’mon get him out.’ He walked him, but he’s pitched well.”
“Once I gave up that single and he started to walk out, I was … saying some unhappy things,” Fedde told reporters. “But then he talked to me and said, ‘Hey, what are you thinking?’ and I was like, you know, ‘Hoskins is mine. I got him’. And then unfortunately I walked him.”
He didn’t get Hoskins, but he did put together what was arguably his best start so far in the majors, with a career-high nine Ks in the Nationals’ 3-1 win.