Davey Martinez was hoping he would get some length from Erick Fedde going into his start in the series finale with the Atlanta Braves last night in the nation’s capital, and hoping that he could spare a bullpen in fairly bad shape, but he was also clear he didn’t want to put any additional pressure on his starter.
“I don’t ever say, ‘Hey, we need you to ...’” Martinez explained, instead he says “... just go out there and compete, inning by inning, and we’ll see where it takes us.’ We never — it’s tough enough to go out there and pitch — and have to worry about — I know those guys, they want to pick up their teammates and they want to go out there and go as long as they can. Perfect example: In New York, [Fedde] felt awful and he felt bad for the bullpen, but that’s part of it.”
Fedde went just 1 1⁄3 innings against the Mets in Citi Field, and he did express frustration in his post game scrum with reporters about what he put his teammates through.
“It’s brutal,” Fedde said of his performance, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman after that game.
“It lets the whole team down. If anything, if you’re able to at least go six, and give up a bunch of runs, you put the team in a better position going forward. But today was just really unacceptable in a sense. I feel bad for the guys in the bullpen. I put them behind the 8-ball probably for the next week or so.”
It happens, of course, and relievers know it’s part of the job too.
“Everybody knows that,” Martinez said yesterday. “Even the bullpen guys know that, hey, there’s some days where they are going to have to suck it up, and pick each other up, but it’s just part of this game. So I just want him to go out there and like I said, just relax, compete, pitch-by-pitch, and see how long he can go out there, and see how long he can sustain keeping us in the ballgame.”
For him to have success, Martinez continued, “... it’s just pounding the strike zone,” but it’s not always that simple for Fedde. “He goes out there and it varies for him inning-by-inning. One inning he looks like, ‘Man, he’s going to get through,’ and then the next inning things get a little weird on him, and then he settles back down, but the pitch count is the biggest thing for him. You know what, he’s done well, but he does — his pitch count gets high, they do foul a lot of balls off. They do fall behind. We always talk about how he goes 0-2 to 3-2, and we want him to get better at that. Three pitches or less, as we always talk about. But when he does that, and he’s attacking the strike zone, his stuff is good, and he can keep us in the ballgame. So, we need him to pitch today, and unfortunately he can do it two ways: He can throw 100 pitches in four innings, or he can throw 100 pitches in 6-7, but we need him to go out there and pitch today.”
It ended up being 111 pitches in 5 1⁄3 IP for Fedde against the Braves, over which he gave up a total of seven hits, two walks, and three earned runs in what ended up an 8-2 loss in D.C.
Erick Fedde’s Line: 5.1 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 4 Ks, 111 P, 64 S, 5/5 GO/FO.
Fedde picked up 11 swinging strikes, six with his cutter, and recorded 12 called strikes, eight with his curve, but Braves’ hitters did foul off 23 pitches as well, running his pitch up like his manager predicted, though the starter managed to get into the sixth in spite of the fact that he was up to 98 after five.
“Hey, look,” Martinez said, “I’m going to give props to Fedde because he battled, he battled all night. They fouled some balls off. The walks, the walks are — like I said before the game, and the 0-2s, the 3-2s, he was 3-2 on a lot of hitters today, but he battled, he knew what we were up against in our bullpen, and he came in after the fifth inning, and he said he wanted to go back out. He said, ‘I need to go back out.’ And he looked okay. I thought that that was enough though, I didn’t want him to go more pitches than that, but he was up in pitches.”
Martinez stressed in his post game comments the need for Fedde to realize just how good his stuff really is for him to take the next step.
“He’s got to understand that his stuff is good, but he’s got to get more competitive with two strikes, and get the ball closer to the zone. He throws a lot of non-competitive pitches with two strikes, and like I said, guys at this level, they’re not going to chase those kind of pitches. They’re going to chase the ball up and down. Side to side, they very rarely chase, but he’s got to be around the plate a little bit better.”