Erick Fedde knew going into his start in Arizona this past weekend that there was a pending roster crunch in Washington, with Stephen Strasburg set to start in a rehab game at Triple-A on the same day, as the 32-year-old, 2019 World Series MVP worked his way back from an IL stint for right shoulder inflammation.
If Fedde didn’t know, his manager’s pregame comment in advance of the outing made clear that there were decisions to make in the near future.
Davey Martinez said everyone was aware of the situation, but he didn’t want Fedde to worry about anything but beating the D-backs.
“We just want him to go out there and pitch, focus on today,” Martinez said.
“Make my decision tough, that’s what I want him to go out there and do. So, either way he knows how important he is to us.
“Whether he starts again or he goes into the bullpen. But I really like what he’s done. I really do. He’s pitched well.”
He continued to pitch well in Chase Field, throwing five scoreless innings to start, which he completed on 76 pitches, giving up just three hits and a walk.
Though he’d gone just five innings in four of his previous five outings, Fedde returned to the mound in the D-backs’ half of the sixth and retired the side in order in a 10-pitch frame, then returned in the seventh and worked around a leadoff walk, completing seven scoreless on a total of 97 pitches in what was still a 0-0 game when he left the mound.
The Nationals scored three in the top of the eighth, and Fedde earned the decision in the 3-0 win. So did his outing make the upcoming decision more difficult?
“Definitely,” Martinez said after the game.
“He threw the ball really well. I think that’s probably the best I’ve seen him throw.
“He had good command of all his pitches, worked the zone really well, so he kept us in the game, in a 0-0 game, he did well.”
Martinez said Fedde’s command in the outing stood out.
“His command was good. He was pounding the strike one, keeping the ball down, made some really good pitches with all his pitches. He was good.
“There was no hesitation for me to keep him in the game. You just watched the other team’s swings today, and he was really throwing the ball well.”
Fedde got eight swinging strikes from D-backs’ hitters, spread out among his four pitches, and 14 called strikes with his sinker, which was particularly sharp, sitting 93-95 in the start.
“I had four pitches today,” he said in his own post game Zoom call, noting that the 12 outs he generated via grounders were a good sign.
“I think just a ton of ground balls, was one of the biggest things that was going. It usually means my sinker is working. I think I was just able to throw a bunch of different pitches at the bottom of the zone, that was probably the biggest thing.”
While he’s put together some solid outings this season, Fedde said the latest was his best.
“Yeah, I mean, any time you can go seven innings scoreless I’d say it’s a pretty good day,” he explained. “I think I got even stronger as the day went on. I think I had a few guys on base early, but then a lot of 1-2-3 innings there late. So that’s definitely something to grow off of.”
As he noted, he’s aware that some decisions will have to be made in the coming days, but it is beyond his control, so not something he’s focused on.
“Yeah, I know — I see Stras in the clubhouse all the time, I know he’s getting close. I don’t know.
“I’ve been in this spot so often it’s almost something I don’t think about anymore, just because I’ve learned the more you think about it it still doesn’t matter at all.
“So, but yeah, my job is to go out there and pitch well, and today I added something to my resume about why I should still be in the rotation.”
So he thinks he’s earned a spot in the rotation?
“100%,” Fedde said. “I think I had that first start of the year was really bumpy, but after that I think I have put a lot of consistent starts together and I’m happy with what I’ve put together for them to look at.”
And if he has to go back to relief work for a while, as he said, he’s done it before.
“Yeah, well I think it’s just something I had to pick up on with constantly a rotation of — I feel like as long as I can remember we’ve always had just four just kind of workhorses — so that fifth spot has always been tough to really nail down or it’s been a guy with a lot of experience, so just one of those things where you had to learn to deal with it if you wanted to stick around, plus it’s the benefit of playing on a winning ballclub for the most part. So yeah, if I end up back in the ‘pen my job is to continue to throw well and it’s a 162-game season again and staying healthy is not always the easiest, so it’s my job to be ready.”