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For Washington Nationals’ Erick Fedde confidence is key...

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Davey Martinez and Yan Gomes are impressed with what they have seen from Erick Fedde in his last two starts...

Arizona Diamondbacks v Washington Nationals Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Erick Fedde’s 2021 debut was something of a disaster, with the recently-turned 28-year-old right-hander giving up six hits, three walks, and six runs (five earned) in just two innings of work on the mound against the Atlanta Braves. But the 2014 1st Round pick bounced back in start No. 2, holding the St. Louis Cardinals to two hits, two walks, and one run in 4 23 IP.

“I really felt like I had a true four-pitch mix today,” Fedde said of his successful start against the Cards in Busch Stadium.

“Everything was really working, especially early in the game. Lost my changeup a little bit late, but I was really happy with everything, I could throw everything for a strike, that’s a good feeling.”

Fedde’s manager, Davey Martinez, reiterated what he says often when he spoke to reporters on a Zoom call before Saturday afternoon’s matchup with the Arizona Diamondbacks in D.C. about the sinker-balling right-hander needing to throw strikes and do so with conviction.

“He’s got great stuff,” Martinez explained, but, “the thing with Fedde, which we always tell him, is that he’s got to come out throwing strikes and pitch with conviction.

“His stuff plays, definitely, he’s got big league stuff, but he’s got to control the strike zone.”

He also said that Fedde needs to bear down when he gets to two strikes and make sure to put hitters away.

“We always tell these guys it’s tough for a hitter, as we know, to hit with two strikes,” he said.

“You don’t have to be so fine. Your put-out pitch doesn’t have to be the perfect pitch. The pitcher is in the driver’s seat at that point, so for him, he gets to two strikes and it’s almost like he wants to throw that turbo cutter, that turbo sinker, you know, and for us, we just have to tell him, ‘Hey, all you have to do is just concentrate on throwing a strike. You’re in the driver’s seat,’ but it’s tough. With two strikes hitters have to think about a lot of different things. He did better at it the other day, hopefully he continues to do better with it, but he doesn’t have to be so fine when he gets to two strikes.”

Fedded ended up tying his career high in Ks (set in September 2018) with nine strikeouts from the 21 batters he faced over five strong innings of work against the D-backs in what ended up a 6-2 win for the Nationals on Saturday.

Erick Fedde’s Line: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 9 Ks, 1 HR, 95 P, 60 S, 2/2 GO/FO.

After generating 10 swinging strikes from D-backs’ hitters and getting 19 called strikes from home plate umpire David Rackley, Fedde said he traced his success to the work he did, and the confidence he built up, in Spring Training, and he didn’t waver when he struggled in his first start of the season.

“I think it still leads back to the end of spring and just feeling so confident in my stuff, and just the things I’ve worked on just led me to be at a point where I feel like I can throw any pitch at any count and it will be effective,” Fedde explained.

“When you have that feeling it’s really easy to be confident and attack the zone.”

“He’s really good,” Fedde’s manager said.

“We talked about this earlier, how he’s got really good stuff, he’s got major league stuff, the question that we always run into is whether he can throw enough strikes or not, and when he does, he can get outs and he can get to those five or six innings, maybe seven innings.”

“He’s done well his last couple outings,” Martinez added, “... we need to keep him there.

“The biggest thing now is consistency with him, so hopefully his next outing we get him out there and he’ll do the same thing.”

“With Fedde,” catcher Yan Gomes said, after guiding the starter through five innings against the D-backs, “... the biggest thing that works with him is when he gets his confidence going.

“You can tell he’s not trying to nibble, not wasting pitches, so that was really fun to see.

“Especially — whenever you see kind of Fedde striking out a lot of guys, I think that’s from his confidence within his first two to three pitches, when he’s getting guys guessing, whether it’s in or out, something soft or hard, so whenever you see that happening you see his confidence starts to go up and you just keep calling whatever you want in there and he’s going to make good pitches.”

“He got ahead of hitters,” Martinez said, adding to the praise for Fedde’s work.

“He threw a lot of pitches, you know, we talked about when he goes 0-2 to kind of finish in 3-4 pitches, but he got ahead of hitters and he battled. His fastball was real good, his sinker was real good, his cutter was really good and he threw his changeup when he needed.”

“I think that’s been something that everyone in here has been reiterating,” Gomes said of the message Martinez has been stressing.

“I think he’s the kind of guy that he’s got tremendous stuff. He gets hit around when he’s pitching 2-0, 1-0 instead of being ahead and making quality pitches.

“I think we said this a while back about his progress and how much you see him learning how to pitch.

“It’s been a fun seat back there watching him just letting it eat and gaining his confidence.”

Fedde said the back-to-back Ks he picked up in the first two at bats of the game, both with his changeup, helped build confidence in what he was working with on the mound.

“I think I had a couple punch-outs in the first inning on changeups, which is a big feel pitch, and when you have that early I think it’s a good sign, especially — it leads to guys not being able to sit on the fastball too much, and I think there in the first inning it was a lot of good signs.”