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Erick Fedde leads Nationals in 8-2 win over Blue Jays; talks cutter he got from Max Scherzer...

After another solid start, Erick Fedde is making a case for a place in the Nationals’ rotation going forward...

MLB: APR 28 Nationals at Blue Jays Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Erick Fedde held New York’s Mets to just one hit through four innings during the recently-completed series at Citi Field, but a one-out hit-by-pitch and walk started the fifth-inning rally which effectively ended the Washington Nationals’ starter’s fourth outing of the year.

In spite of the final results, Fedde said he was generally happy with the work he did until that fifth inning.

“Honestly, I loved it until the fifth,” he explained. “I thought my stuff was great. I had all four pitches working. If anything, that makes it even more frustrating to see it end like that. If anything it I’m just mad that when I did give up a hit I put two guys on base for free. That really kind of made me upset.”

Fedde had it all working again early against the Toronto Blue Jays last night. He struck out five and tossed four scoreless on 73 pitches as the Nationals jumped out to a 6-0 lead, but a Lourdes Gurriel, Jr. solo shot in the fifth (after the Nats went up, 8-0, in the top of the frame), made it an 8-1 game.

An 11-pitch, 1-2-3 sixth, in which he picked up his 7th K, left Fedde at 98 pitches total on the night, over six innings in which he gave up two hits, three walks, and one earned run.

Erick Fedde’s Line: 6.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 7 Ks, 1 HR, 98 P, 59 S, 5/1 GO/FO.

“I had everything pretty much working, especially the cutter,” Fedde said after what ended up an 8-2 win. “Cutter was really good today. I was able to keep — I thought this team was very aggressive, especially watching them go against Max [Scherzer], so I thought I needed something that resembled a fastball to get strikes early in the count, and I think that played a big role.”

Fedde threw his cutter 33 times (34% of his pitches), and got six swinging and six called strikes with the pitch, which he’s leaning on more than ever recently.

“It’s been effective, it really has,” manager Davey Martinez said in his own post game Zoom call after the win.

“With the cutter and the sinker the combination is really good because he works both sides of the plate.

“Today he threw a lot of curveballs. I don’t know how many he threw, but I know it’s up in the teens somewhere, and it was effective for him as well.”

He threw 18 total (18%), with three swinging and two called strikes with the curve, mixed in 39 sinkers (40%, one swinging, 11 called strikes) and added eight changeups (8%).

“When he can get all those pitches in the strike zone, man, as you can see he’s real tough to hit.”

Fedde was excited about his success with the cutter in particular.

“I think today it was that sharp,” he said. “I think it’s been a good mix as well. If guys have to sit on my sinker as well as that, it’s going to be tough picking the ball to go either away from them or into them.”

MLB: Washington Nationals at Toronto Blue Jays Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

He’s thrown the cutter 27.1% of the time this season, up significantly from 16.6% last season and 17.2% of the time in 2019. What’s changed with the pitch that has him leaning on it?

“Confidence with it and execution,” Fedde said. “I think the biggest thing has been with the lefties, just being able to throw a pitch that really gets inside on them has opened up everything away where in other times guys can just hang over the plate. That’s probably the biggest thing is locating it and pitching with it aggressively.”

He does, of course, have a rotation mate in D.C. who’s got a pretty good cutter? Has he been talking cutters with Scherzer as he’s worked it into the mix more often?

“It’s his cutter,” Fedde said. “He taught me it probably two years ago. And it’s just one of those things where I think it takes time. He always says — I’m trying to remember what he says, it takes 2-3 years to really learn a new pitch, and I think I’m about at that point, so it’s good.”

Fedde also credited a conversation he had this spring as the impetus for his decision to mix up his repertoire and for the success he is experiencing now.

“I think early in Spring Training we talked about my usage of pitches a lot,” Fedde said, “... how I’d really been like 60% fastballs or something ridiculously high compared to league average, so they were talking about maybe mixing things a little more, keeping guys more off-balance could be something that’s very effective, and I’m reaping the benefits of that conversation.”