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Erick Fedde lifted early-ish in Washington Nationals’ 9-2 loss to Baltimore Orioles... why?

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Davey Martinez explained his thinking in lifting Erick Fedde after six strong innings and 66 pitches last night, but when the bullpen blew a lead and then blew up, the decision did receive scrutiny...

MLB: Washington Nationals at Baltimore Orioles Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Erick Fedde’s previous start before last night’s was in the minors back on July 2nd for Triple-A Fresno, and the minor league All-Star Break, a move to the Double-A Harrisburg Senators, and the decision to bring him up to start in the big leagues, instead of in his scheduled start on Monday, kept him off the mound for a total of 14 days between outings.

Fedde’s return to the Washington Nationals’ rotation began with three scoreless innings on the mound against Baltimore last night in Oriole Park at Camden Yards, but the 26-year-old right-hander gave up a solo shot to center field by Trey Mancini in the bottom of the fourth inning as the Orioles tied things up at 1-1 an inning after the Nats jumped out to a 1-0 lead.

Given a 2-1 lead to work with in the top of the fifth, Fedde got a 5-6-3 DP to erase a one-out single in the bottom of the inning, and the seven-pitch frame left him at 58 pitches total on the night.

Fedde needed just eight pitches total in a 1-2-3 sixth inning in which he collected three ground ball outs, and he was up to just 66 pitches, but he didn’t come back out for the Orioles’ half of the seventh and things went all pear-shaped in the Nationals’ bullpen.

Wander Suero (BB, 3 H, 3 ER, 13 IP), Javy Guerra (3 H, 4 R, 2 ER), and Matt Grace (3 H, 1 ER) all struggled in what ended up being a 9-2 loss to the O’s.

Erick Fedde’s Line: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 Ks, 1 HR, 66 P, 40 S, 9/2 GO/FO.

So... why did Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez lift Fedde when he did? As you might expect, he said it was because Fedde hadn’t pitched in two weeks.

“That’s the first time he’s pitched in 14 days, and that was good enough,” Martinez said in his post-game press conference.

“He got us through the sixth inning. We had Suero ready to go, but Fedde did well.”

Had they discussed some sort of inning or pitch limit before the game?

“I didn’t want to stretch him out that far knowing that he’s had two weeks off,” Martinez said, and Fedde said he understood the thinking.

“I was feeling good, but they just told me it was more of a safety thing, in a sense, which I can always respect,” Fedde explained.

“Just one of those ones, wish I could have gone more, but have to respect the decision.”

Did he feel like he could have kept going?

“I always want the ball,” Fedde said, “so whenever they’re going to give it to me I’ll take it.”

The decision-making before and during the start is sure to be a point of contention for like the next six-to-twelve hours or so, but while he was on the mound, Fedde impressed, even though it was against an Orioles’ roster that’s having a season to forget.

“He kept the ball down, he threw strikes, and he was good, he was effective,” Martinez said.

Was he better than expected after two weeks off?

“He was really good,” the manager said.

“When he keeps the ball down his ball’s got movement. His changeup is effective, his slider is effective, so I liked it and he pitched really well.”

“I was pretty happy with the way it went,” Fedde said. “Able to get through six with the lead is always nice.”

His stuff wasn’t all there early, but the 2014 1st Round pick said he felt better as the outing went along.

“I think things went well,” Fedde told reporters. “Both of my breaking balls were a little off in the first couple innings, and I think they really started to pick up later, just maybe I was still getting decent results, but I felt a lot better with like the sharpness of them.”

The “decent results” included nine groundouts, which accounted for 11 of the 18 outs he got from Orioles’ hitters, with double plays in the second and fifth innings.

“Yeah, sinker was great today,” Fedde said when asked about the groundouts.

“I mean, that’s just when I’m on I think that’s my best pitch usually, and today it was good, and yeah, the ground balls prove it.”

And after Austin Voth and Fedde put together solid outings against the Orioles where does the battle for the fifth spot in the Nationals’ rotation stand?

“It’s tough. They made it tough,” Martinez said. “So, we’ll see.

“Right now we’ve got [Stephen] Strasburg pitching tomorrow and that’s what I’m worried about.”

Did Fedde feel like he made a strong case for inclusion in the rotation?

“I hope so. That’s always my goal. My goal is to be part of this team. I like to think I can help everybody out up here, and whatever they decide I have to go with.”