Erick Fedde tossed four scoreless innings in the latest sim game in Nationals Park, holding a lineup of his teammates off the board as he squared off against Stephen Strasburg in a fake-noise filled ballpark.
Fedde, 27, made 21 appearances (and 12 starts) in the majors last season, in which he put up a 4.50 ERA, a 5.34 FIP, 33 walks (3.81 BB/9), 41 strikeouts (4.73 K/9), and a .297/.369/.491 line against in 60 1⁄3 innings of work as a starter, with a .197/.286/.295 line against in 17 2⁄3 IP when he worked out of the bullpen for Washington.
With a limited amount of time to build back up for the start of the 60-game 2020 campaign, Fedde and the rest of the Nationals’ starters are doing all they can in sim games and soon in exhibitions to get up to game speed in a hurry, so they’re taking every opportunity seriously after close to four months off waiting for baseball to return from the shutdown that started in mid-March when the coronavirus pandemic really picked up in the U.S.
“You’ve got to take these very seriously, as you would towards the end of Spring Training,” the Nats’ 2014 1st Round pick told reporters on a Zoom call after he was done for the night.
“Just viewing them as tune-ups. Tried to do as much work as I could during the break, so I’m viewing these as just the touch-ups to get ready to go into the season.”
The right-hander was happy with his work overall in the simulated game, with four innings of work in which he struck out two, walked one, and gave up two hits without allowing any runs.
“Fedde threw the ball really well,” Davey Martinez said after the game. “Commanded his fastball, commanded the strike zone, which I like a lot.”
“I was really happy with my outing,” Fedde said. “Obviously the results are pretty solid.”
Since it was, as he said, a “tune-up” or “touch-up”, Fedde told reporters he was focused on some specific work in the outing.
“I’ve just been working on kind of differentiating three breaking balls,” he explained, “... and just kind of getting those really separated today.”
It was also his first experience with the piped-in crowd noise teams are reportedly going to be using to bring some life to crowd-free parks as they attempt to play out the season with the spread of COVID-19 still a significant issue around the country (and world).
What did Fedde think of the simulated crowd noise?
“If anything it just gets you zoned in a little more,” he said. “Crowd noise is something I feel like most players are pretty good at zoning out.
“I didn’t even really think about it to be honest. But it was nice to kind of feel like we had a little bit better atmosphere today.”
“It really didn’t bug me at all,” Fedde added at another point.
“If anything, it helped kind of zone you in a little more, when you get the little bit of extra adrenaline for a big moment, and I don’t know, it’s just fun to feel like people are cheering you on again.”
The next step in the progression is exhibition games, starting with this coming Saturday’s matchup with the Philadelphia Phillies in Nationals Park, and Fedde said seeing someone from another team in the batter’s box will likely be a welcome change for his teammates.
“We have a lot of really good hitters we put out there, so it’s nice,” he said.
“But I think just showing up to see a different uniform in the box is nice, and we have a couple of those games coming up which I think will be huge for a lot of us.”
After the exhibition games, and provided COVID-19 doesn’t bring the whole thing to a halt, the 60-game season will begin on July 23rd, and as Fedde explained, those who are taking part in the campaign, have to take it very seriously for the benefit of everyone involved in attempting to make it happen.
“Honestly, everyone is taking a really big responsibility and giving up a lot of your free time just to stay inside and be responsible,” Fedde said.
“It’s just one of those things where it might be monotonous and not that enjoyable, but I want to play this season, and I think a lot of other guys do too.”