Talking before a July 27th start by Washington Nationals’ 2014 1st Round pick Erick Fedde, Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez broke down what the right-hander needed to do to be more consistent in his outings, so he can lock down a spot in the club’s rotation going forward.
Martinez talked about putting hitters away when Fedde gets ahead in the count, instead of letting them back in and having his pitch count run up, repeating his mechanics, getting a batter out in four pitches or less, ideally, and consistently pounding the strike zone.
“We see on occasion where he dominates throughout games,” Martinez said, “... and goes through innings where his stuff is so good that it’s tough to hit.”
“I watch the reactions of some of the other guys on the other teams,” the Nats’ fourth-year skipper said, “you know, hitters, when he’s pitching, and when he’s really good, you see these guys swing and miss, his balls have so much different action that when guys swing and miss, man, they sit there and they shake there heads like, ‘What did that ball do?’
“He’s got that kind of stuff, he’s just got to be consistent with it.”
Going into his 20th start of the season last night, Fedde had a 5.12 ERA, a 4.50 FIP, 38 walks (3.74 BB/9), and 83 Ks (8.18 K/9) in 91 1⁄3 IP. His manager talked before the game about what he has to do to be more consistent and take the next step in his development and become a consistent contributor to the rotation.
“I look at Fedde and we talk a lot about his put-out pitch,” Martinez said. “He gets a lot of guys in 0-2 counts and when you look up he’s 2-2, 3-2, and I told him in order to pitch deeper in games, we got to cut that down, we’ve got to get early outs, and we got to finish guys in 3-4 pitches in at bats, especially when you’re ahead 0-2, but when you can start doing that consistently you’re going to be able to go deeper into games, and be in the seventh inning with 90 pitches or less. That’s what we want him to do.
“He gets through innings fairly quickly in the beginning, and then later in the innings, like I said, he goes 0-2, 3-2, and next thing you know his pitch count is getting up there, it’s getting higher, and that’s where he gets in trouble, so we want him to consistently get guys out and get guys out quick, let the ball get [put] in play. I talk a lot about strikeouts, I know guys love to strike guys out, but you can also get guys out in 1-2 pitches just by letting them put the ball in play and that’s something that he’s trying to understand, how to make pitches early, and get guys to swing, put the balls in play, and if he does go 0-2, figure out a way to get them out in 3-4 pitches.”
Going up against the Toronto Blue Jays in the nation’s capital, it was more of the same, with some good stretches, some long innings, trouble putting hitters away, and ending innings, and an abbreviated outing in which he gave up five hits, three walks, and three earned runs in five innings in which he struck out four and threw 94 pitches, 54 for strikes, in what was in the end a 12-6 win in which he earned the W and snapped his winless streak as the club snapped a seven-game losing streak.
“I think, I mean the way the game went with the win,” Fedde said after the less-than-stellar start, “I think it makes everything a little easier, but for sure wish I could have gone a little deeper there. I really liked my stuff today, just kept finding myself in situations where guys were on base and I was battling to get big outs, so just my pitch count rose in that sense.”
Talking about his struggles to get ahead in counts, and put hitters away when he does, the righty said the issue in his mind is, “trying not to be too perfect. I mean, if you’re throwing an 0-2 heater and you’re trying to dot it on the black, it’s going to be a lot more difficult and sometimes you’re behind in the count. So, I think it’s maybe just being a little more aggressive with the larger part of the plate, and trusting that 0-0 heater might be a ground ball out or a pop-up and then being ahead in the count makes life a lot easier, you have a lot more to work with.”
And when he does get ahead, why does he struggle to put hitters away and end up in long at bats that run his pitch count up?
“Yeah, I think sometimes I have the [habit] of trying to maybe overthrow a heater, or just trying to make a breaking ball better than it needs to be and just trying to overdo it I guess would lead to pitches being more in the dirt or a heater just not being competitive. I think it’s just trusting my stuff and saying that I don’t have to overdo it to get the out.”
“We talked when he came out,” Martinez said in his post game Zoom call, “and once again the biggest thing with him is pounding the strike zone. He had a rough go today, but I sat down with him and I explained how good his stuff really is, sometimes I don’t think he realizes how good his stuff is. And his fastball is good, his cutter this year he developed, it’s really good, you know and he calls it a slurve, it’s good. My big thing with him is get ahead early, I mean, if you look at the numbers, when he gets ahead early he’s really good, and tonight he struggled with that, but I told him, I said, hey, what I loved about tonight is he battled back, first inning he threw a lot of pitches, came back out threw a lot of pitches, but he kept battling, kept battling, and kept us in the ballgame, and like I said, in the fifth inning he had 94 pitches, he wanted to go back out, but I told him, ‘You need to get 94 pitches in the seventh inning and maybe I’ll send you back out there.”