Washington Nationals: Erick Fedde Bounced Back Against The Rockies

Despite struggling to go deep into games this season, Erick Fedde held the Rockies to one run across seven excellent innings.

Across his first four starts to start the season, Erick Fedde has been unable to go deeper than five innings, an issue that had been plaguing the entire Washington Nationals rotation. After going five innings in each of his first two starts, he went 3 1/3 and 4 1/3 innings respectively in his third and fourth outings.

Last week against the Marlins, Fedde only allowed two runs, but saw his pitch count get away from him — finishing with 91 pitches across 4 1/3 innings. Miami fouled off 17 of his pitches — something that has plagued him throughout his career. Fedde has struggled to put batters away early, often causing him to get gassed and labor through his outings.

Manager Dave Martinez told reporters yesterday before the game what the team had been working on with Fedde in order for him to fix this issue.

It’s all about not trying to do too much,” Martinez said. “0-2, 1-2. You know where he’s got to make better, more consistent pitches. 0-2, 1-2. Around the zone. We’ll often talk with him and said you try to really throw a better slot or you try to throw a better cutter or you try to you know, it doesn’t have to be any better.”

Martinez has zeroed in on how Fedde focuses too much at times on striking out batters instead of just trying to get quick outs.

“It’s not about striking out,” Martinez said. “It’s about getting hitters out three or four pitches or less. But what we see is that whenever he gets to 0-2 he just wants to put guys out so bad that he tends to hump up and throw a lot of non-competitive pitches.0-2, 1-2. All you have to do is be around the plane. Strike, strike, ball, instead of ball out of hand. That’s something that we’ve talked about and hopefully today once he gets to 0-2, he can do those things.”

Last night against the Rockies at Coors Field, Fedde was able to improve on what Martinez had told him. He had his best outing of the season, holding the Rockies to one run across seven innings while striking out three. This was the fourth time in his career he had thrown seven or more innings — leading the bullpen to have a much-needed night off. Fedde’s success stemmed from pitching to contact instead of chasing strikeouts– in turn allowing his pitch count to not balloon out of control.

Even when he ran into a jam, he was able to minimize the damage. In the bottom of the third, the Rockies scored a run thanks to a fielders choice. Fedde then walked the next batter, putting runners on first and second with one out. But he quickly got the next two outs on seven pitches to strand the runners — marking the best scoring opportunity the Rockies had against him.

Something to keep an eye on is that 15 of the 28 batters Fedde faced saw three or fewer pitches in their at-bats. This is even more impressive when you factor in Colorado fouled off 18 of his pitches. Consistently limiting his pitch count will make or break if Fedde can run away with his spot in the rotation.