Erick Fedde took the mound last night in Miami and dominated the Marlins over 6 1⁄3 innings on the mound in loanDepot park, giving up six hits and one walk, while striking out a career-high 10 of 25 batters faced in a 103-pitch effort in a 5-1 win for Washington’s Nationals. What was the key for Fedde?
“I think the pregame talk was it was a very aggressive team,” Fedde told reporters on a post-game Zoom call from South Florida, “and being able to land breaking balls and cutters early in the count I think got me into a lot of 0-2, 1-2 counts, where I could go after the punchouts and I think just landing those early in the counts was working well for me.”
“He was just aggressive in the zone,” catcher Tres Barrera said in his own post game Zoom call, after guiding Fedde through the outing and going 3 for 4 with a homer at the plate.
“We knew they were going to be aggressive over there on that side, and we had to make quality pitches early and get strike one, and that was the main goal, and when were able to do that, especially with the breaking ball, it opened up a lot of windows, it opened up a window with the cutter, opened up the sinker, it set us up for the rest of the at bat when we were able to get strike one with that breaking ball, and he did a great job, man.”
Fedde threw his breaking ball 38 times overall (37% of his 103 pitches, up from a season-average of 17.6% of the time), and generated 21 swings and nine swinging strikes, and he recorded three called strikes with the pitch as well, which his manager said was the best curveball he’s seen the 28-year-old throw.
“He was pounding the strike zone, but his breaking ball was really, really, really on tonight,” Davey Martinez said. “He had a great game, he did really well, pounded the strike zone like I said, he was able to throw strikes when he needed to, which was huge, so good day for him.”
What was working with the curveball?
“It was a little shorter than normal today,” the manager explained, “and he had a late break on it, so definitely was really good today, and like I said, when you can get ahead like he was tonight, he utilized it really well.”
“Honestly, about four or five starts ago I had a talk with Sam Clay,” Fedde said, when he too was asked what was working with his breaking ball, “... cause — I know [Clay is a] lefty — but I thought we threw kind of similar, and I was looking at — I don’t know, when I’m sitting on the bench I look through the iPads of people pitching and I don’t know I just kind of had a conversation with him on how he threw it and I adopted the grip and it immediately clicked. I think the last four or five starts I’ve had more swings and misses on it, or bad takes, and ever since then it’s just been good, so I’m thankful for him.”
How big a change did he make with the grip?
“Slid to a different seam on the ball,” he said, “... and didn’t really change I guess the way I was throwing it — just the way I was gripping it, and I think it’s just had way more bite and hitters definitely aren’t seeing it as well.”
“The breaking ball was a lot sharper than it ever has been, it was shorter, it was a late break,” Martinez added. “Tough to recognize, you could tell by the swings of the hitters. If he can do that consistently and keep it that way, he’s going to be good. We said that before.
“One, the biggest thing is pounding the strike zone, as we know, his cutter was effective as well today, to lefties, but that breaking ball today was what we’ve been looking for from him consistently, and it was good today.”
Fedde said his success with the curve did set up his other pitches.
“I think landing it in the zone early, and then being able to throw it out of the zone,” he said, “that’s probably the biggest effectiveness of it, and when people have to sit on it, and trust that it might be in the zone, it sets up heaters and cutters also in the zone.”