Erick Fedde is used to this by now. Fedde, 28, and a 2014 1st Round pick by Washington, has made 34 starts and 46 total appearances in the majors for the Nationals at this point, and in 2020 he once again bounced back and forth between relief work and the starting rotation, with last-minute starts and long relief appearances when starters were injured or unable to take their turn.
HIs biggest takeaway from last year’s 60-game season, which saw him make 11 appearances overall, with eight of them starts, is that he has started to get used to it.
“We’ve always had, since I’ve been here, just a very, very high-quality rotation, and starts are hard to come by,” Fedde explained, “... so whenever I can get them, I try to get deep into ballgames, I think that’s the kind of stuff that you can only learn from being out there. So I was really lucky to get a lot of starts.”
Fedde made the club’s Opening Day roster this spring, after a ruling from a neutral arbiter that he no longer had the fourth option the Nationals believed he did, so rather than risk having him claimed on waivers if they decided to send him down, he was expected to be a long man in the bullpen.
Of course, just one game in to the new season, he was already being called on to start in the first game of a doubleheader with the Atlanta Braves.
“We’ve kept him stretched out,” manager Davey Martinez said before Wednesday’s game.
“He’s thrown some bullpens where he’s thrown 60-65 pitches, so we’re going to see how far he can go.
“Everything [depends] on what he does out there. Our bullpen is ready, we got some guys that can give us length as well, so we’ll see how far we can take Fedde.”
They couldn’t take him too far, unfortunately, as Fedde gave up six hits and six runs (five of them earned) while issuing three walks in just 1 2⁄3 IP over which he threw 45 pitches (27 of them strikes) before he was lifted from the outing.
Erick Fedde’s Line: 1.2 IP, 6 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, 45 P, 27 S, 1/2 GO/FO.
“We talk about it all the time,” Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez told reporters after what ended up being a 7-6 loss to Atlanta.
“He’s got to pound the strike zone. He’s got to pound the strike zone, he’s got to get ahead, when he does that he’s really good. There’s good hitters in this league and when you fall behind and you have to throw a strike, they don’t miss a lot of times. So, he’s got to work ahead, he’s got to work ahead, and he’s got to have conviction when he throws his pitches.”
“Yeah, just honestly my fastball was up a lot today,” Fedde said in assessing his own outing.
“Pitching behind in counts makes everything a lot tougher.
“Those are probably the two big things. I mean, yeah, that pretty much led to everything.”
Why was his fastball up, or what wasn’t working?
“I think when I’m at my best I’m sinking the ball down in the zone and building off of that,” the right-hander said.
“Just never really was able to get that pitch established, and everything just seemed to be up and that definitely led to some extra base hits.”