It’s been an odd 2020 campaign for everyone in baseball, and Erick Fedde has been no exception.
Fedde has been filling in as a starter for the Washington Nationals at times, working in long relief as well, but then Stephen Strasburg’s injury and surgery provided an opportunity for the 27-year-old, 2014 1st Round pick, who moved back into the rotation and started against the Philadelphia Phillies in Strasburg’s spot last week, giving up seven hits and four earned runs over five innings of work in what ended up an 8-3 loss in the nation’s capital.
Knowing when he would start again in five days, Fedde said, at least allowed him to prepare properly.
“I can get in my nice five-day routine, really start to grind, and try to put together,” Fedde said.
“I mean, the season is short, probably another 6-7 starts, and try to give us a chance to win every time. It’s just going to be one of those things where, get back to the starting routine I know and really just get after it.”
One of the keys to his success, Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez said before last night’s game with the Phillies, is throwing first pitch strikes.
“I talk to him about this all the time,” Martinez said. “Strike one. When he throws strike one he’s very effective.
“Pound the strike zone, get ahead of hitters, and he’s got good enough stuff to put hitters away, as we’ve seen, and just be pitch efficient. If he does that he’s going to do fine.”
Fedde fell behind Rhys Hoskins 2-0 in a one-out at bat in the bottom of the first in Citizens Bank Park, and gave up a solo home run on a fly to left field that gave the home team a 1-0 lead. Hoskins was the only batter of four in the first who didn’t get a first-pitch strike.
After getting ahead of the first two batters in the bottom of the second, Fedde fell behind 3-1 on Jay Bruce and gave up a second solo home run on a 3-1 fastball to sailed out to right to make it 2-0 Phillies.
Fedde walked Bryce Harper to start the fourth, hit J.T. Realmuto, and gave up an infield hit by Didi Gregorius and a base-clearing double by Jean Segura, 5-0, and Segura moved to third on a groundout by Jay Bruce before scoring on a sac fly by Alec Bohm, 6-0.
Fedde held the Phillies there, retiring nine batters in a row to end his outing and get through six on 85 pitches, but in spite of the Nationals’ fight to get back in the game, the home team held on for an 8-6 win.
Erick Fedde’s Line: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 1 BB, 4 Ks, 2 HRs, 85 P, 50 S, 9/2 GO/FO.
“I had a good conversation with Fedde when he came out of the game about certain things, so hopefully it resonates,” Martinez said after the Nationals’ third straight loss.
“He made a couple mistakes, but he went to six innings, but he had one bad inning, but we live and learn, he’s still young.
“So, hopefully his next [outing] he understands what we’re trying to get out of him, and he goes out there and shuts the door down.”
When it starts to go wrong like it did in the fourth, what does the manager see?
“You see him, he gets the ball up and he starts falling behind and he’s got to throw strikes,” Martinez said. “And then he gets the ball up.
“His location, he starts losing a little bit of his location, so when things start happening, as I talked to him, it’s when you really got to start slowing things down and understanding, hey, let’s just limit the damage and just try to get outs.
“He’s a ground ball pitcher when he’s good, just try to get ground balls and try to get two outs with one pitch.”
“Giving two free bases away to start off an inning is not ideal,” Fedde said when asked about his struggles in the fourth. “But I just try to get a ground ball and get two outs on one pitch in that situation. It didn’t happen this time, but yeah, the big innings killed me two games in a row.”
“That’s what I tried to talk to him today about, ‘Hey, like I said, limit the damage. Don’t worry about — just get to the next pitch. If you give up one run you give up one run, you give up one run, but try to limit the damage.’ He gets up there and he tries to make the perfect pitch. It doesn’t happen that way, just keep pitching the way you pitched before. He’s pitched from the stretch plenty and he’s done well.
“I just think he just has that one snowball inning when he goes out there and he just tries to make up for it by doing things — by trying to speed up instead of slow things down and let him understand, like I said, he’s a ground ball pitcher. Let me get the ball down, let me keep the ball down, and try to get that ground ball.”
“I don’t know, it’s one of those things where you just want to stay aggressive and continue to pitch to my strengths,” Fedde said of what he needs to do when he sees the big innings building.
“Unfortunately I gave up the big hit, and I talked with Davey after and just some things to improve on, and maybe slow the game down a little for myself there. When guys get on those are the most important pitches, and to be able to pitch just as effectively then as when there’s two outs and nobody on.”