Max Scherzer talked on a Zoom call after being added to the NL All-Star roster on Saturday afternoon, about all the injuries and obstacles the Washington Nationals have dealt with in the first half of the season, as they’ve battled to stay afloat in the NL East. The good news, Scherzer explained, is that they will get players back in the second half who can provide a boost as the club tries to climb in the standings.
“Yeah, I mean, of course, just continue to get contributions from everybody,” Scherzer said.
“Even when [Stephen Strasburg] was down, we’ve got to see [Erick] Fedde and Joe [Ross] really go out there and they’ve stepped up and had some really, really big games for us, and it’s really great to see those guys, really pitching well. And that’s even the reason we can even talk about still being in this race, is because of guys like Joe and Fedde and what Josh Harrison has done, and [Starlin] Castro.
“Go up and down our team, we’re getting production from a lot of different ways, and a lot of different guys, and so that’s what makes a good team, and if we can continue to do that, then we can play with just about anybody in this league.”
Ross landed on the IL with elbow inflammation earlier this month, but Fedde, who had two IL stints already this season, after testing positive for COVID, and when he suffered a “mild” oblique strain, started the first-half finale, and his manager, Davey Martinez, talked about a more mature, polished 2014 1st Round pick really putting together a solid pre-All-Star run in the rotation this season.
“He’s matured a lot,” Martinez told reporters. “In Spring Training, both of those guys [Ross and Fedde] were on the bubble to be fifth starters, they both have stepped up, [Fedde] and Ross both, and Max is right, who knows where we’d be without those two guys. So, Fedde has just done a great job. I know he’s worked a lot with [Pitching Coach Jim] Hickey on his mechanics, on his arm angle. But he’s done well. He’s another guy that he had a little hiccup and he’s coming back from the IL, and we hope that he finishes up the first half with a good outing today, but he’s done really well. I think he’s learned a lot about who he can be moving forward, so that’s awesome.”
Fedde took the mound on Sunday afternoon in San Francisco with a 4.53 ERA, a 4.53 FIP, 26 walks, (3.92 BB/9), and 52 Ks (7.84 BB/9) in 12 starts and 59 2⁄3 IP on the season, and finished the outing with a 5.40 ERA, a 4.77 FIP, 29 walks (4.03 BB/9), and 59 Ks (8.21 K/9) in 64 2⁄3 IP after he gave up three runs in five innings of work in which he walked three and struck out a total of seven in what ended up a 3-1 loss.
“He started off a little erratic,” Martinez said, after Fedde put two on, giving up leadoff walk and a single in the first two at bats of the game, before an infield pop and inning-ending 4-6-3 DP.
In the second he gave up leadoff and one-out singles, by Brandon Crawford and Donovan Solano, respectively, and a three-run homer by Curt Casali which provided all of the runs the home team would need.
“Couldn’t quite find the strike zone, behind a lot, and then he settled in and threw the ball well,” Martinez said.
“He just couldn’t, he couldn’t find that strike zone early, he was behind a lot of hitters, and as you can see as the game went on, he threw the ball better.”
The end of the second and the third were a bit shaky too, but Fedde kept the Giants off the board after the second, and retired the side in order in the fourth, then stranded a one-out hit in the fifth before he was done for the day.
“Just probably needed to come out with a little more aggression I’d say,” Fedde said when he was asked to assess his out outing after the game.
“Just the first couple innings were tough. I was happy with myself and the way I settled in.
“But my last couple starts I think I’ve given up a three-run home run in each of the so that’s just — got to make a better pitch with people on base.”
Heading into the All-Star break, Fedde said he was happy with the way he’s pitched overall in the first half.
“Yeah, I mean, overall I was really happy with it,” he said. “Probably up until this last couple starts. But I think that’s part of the season, your ups and downs, I think at this point I just got to take what I can from the first half and try to finish strong. I know I haven’t had many seasons where I made 20-25, starts, but I think that’s something that I can have my eye on going into the second half and happy I’ve put myself in a position to do that.”
And how does he think he’s grown as a pitcher over his first 13 starts?
“I think it really has been my ability to throw four pitches, I think that’s been something that I’ve been very happy with in the first half,” Fedde said.
“I think games like today, where maybe the manager or whoever it might be might not think I can make it through three innings, but I feel like now I’ve kind of proven myself to the point where I get a chance to throw 35 pitches in an inning and get out of it, and then get to the fourth or fifth inning and really settle in. I think if I looked at myself maybe two years ago that wasn’t something — that wasn’t there. And I think I’ve had a couple starts this year where I’ve been able to do that, and it’s big when you want to be a starter in this league to do that and give your team a chance to win.”