Erick Fedde threw his curveball for 39 of 96 pitches last time out on the mound against the Miami Marlins on September 20th, a full 41%, and he did generate five swinging strikes, or whiffs, and collect eight called strikes with the curve, which he’d thrown 37% and 39% of the time in his previous two outings against the Washington Nationals’ NL East rivals after he’d started leaning on it over the last month-plus.
Fedde was at 22.4% curveballs, 23.4% cutters, and 42.4% sinkers overall on the season after that outing, with opposing hitters hitting .330 on the sinker, .229 on his cutter, and just .188 on the curve, throwing mainly those three pitches, with 10.2% changeups (.200 BAA) and a total of 1.6% four-seam fastballs (.444 BAA) as well.
That 41% total seemed a bit high though.
“By design we wanted to throw more curveballs,” manager Davey Martinez said the next day.
“We didn’t want to throw that many, I think he went to it a little more than we really wanted, but it’s a pitch that he really likes, he throws it two different speeds, but we definitely don’t want him to throw it that much.
“His two-seamer, for me, it’s been — when you’re throwing that many curveballs, you can throw it down and away to lefties, and it can be effective as well, so that’s something that — a conversation we’ll have with him today, I know by design you want to throw curveballs, but when you’re throwing 3-4 in a row, the hitters get to see them consistently, if you leave one up, as we saw yesterday, they can go a long way.
“That’s something that [Pitching Coach Jim] Hickey I know was going to address with him today, but we want to see him attacking the strike zone a lot more with his fastball, with his cutter, which has played well, and also, he throws his changeup every now and then very effectively, and instead of a curveball he could use his changeup sometimes, he opted to go to the curveball, but like I said, this is something that Hickey is going to address with him today.”
In last night’s start versus the Cincinnati Reds in Great American Ball Park, Fedde went just 4 2⁄3 innings, giving up seven hits, three walks, and five runs in a 96-pitch, 57-strike outing in a game that ended with another walk-off hit, this time a home run by Nick Castellanos in the ninth.
Fedde threw curveballs for 43 of his 96 pitches, (45%), threw 24 sinkers (25%), 17 cutters (18%), eight changeups (8%), and four four-seamers (4%).
Fedde gave up three-straight hits, a single and two doubles, and two runs in the bottom of the second, with the hits on a four-seam fastball, curve, and sinker, respectively. A double and a sac fly, both on curveballs, resulted in another run in the third, and he gave up two in the fifth before he was lifted, with a leadoff single on a cutter, a walk, a base-loading single on a curve, a sac fly on a sinker, and an RBI single on a curveball, before his third walk of the game ended his outing.
“He couldn’t repeat his mechanics,” Martinez said after the outing. “He was falling all over, he had 90-something pitches, and at some point I just don’t want him to be out there and get hurt, so once he walked that last guy I thought he was done.”
And what did the manager think of Fedde’s pitch selection this time out?
“I just didn’t think he could locate his fastball,” he said. “So they went more with the curveball, and that’s the difference right there, that he had to throw more curveballs because he couldn’t find his fastball and couldn’t find his rhythm.”
Asked about the volume of curves he’s been throwing in recent outings, Fedde said, “I think it’s been effective for me, maybe just kind of leaning on something that had been effective the last couple starts and then just, yeah I didn’t command that well, I think it just got to the point where a lot of guys were spitting on it down in the dirt, didn’t have them really engaged on it.”
“I definitely think maybe that third time through the lineup today it looked like the hitters were maybe more on top of it,” he added, “or not flinching as much as it.
“Maybe something that’s becoming part of the report, and something I need to be more effective with the other pitches, maybe a little higher percentage of those going forward.”