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Erick Fedde has earned spot in Washington Nationals’ rotation...

Erick Fedde returned from a month out after testing positive for COVID-19 and picked up where he left off...

San Francisco Giants v Washington Nationals - Game One Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images

Erick Fedde made one rehab start for High-A Wilmington last week before he was cleared to return to the Washington Nationals’ rotation, following a stint on the COVID-IL, after testing positive during the club’s road trip to Arizona and Chicago last month. Davey Martinez said on Friday afternoon that the 28-year-old, 2014 1st Round pick checked all the boxes he had to in order to return to the majors.

“In his [rehab] outing, he went five innings, threw 76 pitches. He felt good enough to go 6-7 with 90+. He threw a bullpen the other day, extended bullpen,” Martinez explained.

“He looked really good. Mechanics were really good, he had his legs underneath him.

“And he went through his daily routine as he always does with no issues. So, he says he feels good, so like I said, he’ll get a start tomorrow and we’ll see where he’s at.”

Heading into the outing, Martinez talked about what he wanted to see from Fedde to let him know the righty was back up to speed after close to a month off the mound in the majors.

“For me, with Fedde, it’s about attacking the strike zone,” the manager said.

“Being in command of his mechanics, not speeding up, and staying out of that big inning.

“That’s key for Fedde. But he feels good. The good news is he feels good, he’s ready and hopefully he takes us deep in the first game.”

Martinez also talked about the balance between needing his starter to go deep in the first game of a doubleheader, and wanting to make sure Fedde is back in the shape he was in before the IL stint.

“He went out there and did a rehab and threw five innings, 75 pitches,” Martinez said, “and he said he was good. Talked to [Blue Rocks’ manager Tommy Shields] down there, he said he probably could have went a lot more, he felt good, and I talked to him and he said he was feeling good. So, his bullpen the other day, he threw an extended bullpen, the ball was coming out really well, so there’s going to be no limitations on him today, we’ll see how the game goes.”

It went well.

Fedde tossed five scoreless on 82 pitches in his return to the majors, striking out seven of 18 batters without walking anyone for the first time in one of his outings this season, in an impressive appearance in a 2-0 win for the Nationals.

Erick Fedde’s Line: 5.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 Ks, 82 P, 51 S, 5/2 GO/FO.

Fedde mixed in his cutter (34%, 7 swinging strikes), sinker (34%), curveball (16%), and his changeup (16%), generating 12 swinging strikes and seven called strikes overall, and held hitters in check throughout, with all four hits singles.

“That was amazing,” Martinez said of Fedde’s performance against the Giants after the win.

“Came out and gave us the five innings we needed and just at 82 pitches,” he added. “We went out there and we wanted to try to squeeze that last inning in with him, and he came out fired up and got through it. It was a great performance by Fedde.”

“It was awesome,” Fedde said of getting back on the mound in the majors for the first time since May 16th.

“That was a really frustrating month to miss out on,” he acknowledged, “and just to be able to get out and compete again made me realize how much I missed it.”

It was another solid start for Fedde, who’s shown the Nationals his value this season at the back end of the rotation.

“He’s done well,” Martinez told reporters.

“Like I said, two things that stick out, one, his confidence, and two his ability to throw all four of his pitches when he wants to and throw strikes.

“That’s huge. For a young pitcher as he is, things are starting to come together for him and it’s good to see.

“I told him before, ‘Hey, you deserve to start, you earned it, just keep it going.’”

It was Fedde’s first start this season (and first since August 2019) in which he didn’t allow a walk, which he said was, at least in part, a result of getting an early lead to work with when Kyle Schwarber hit a leadoff blast in the bottom of the first.

“I think any time you can avoid free bases it’s big,” Fedde said.

“It was awesome that Schwarber could give us the lead early and then it allows me to really pitch effectively and aggressively. I think to myself, ‘Free bases and a homer and then we’re down,’ so that’s the one where I just really want to be aggressive and make sure nobody is on base.”