Right-hander Erick Fedde made his third big league start in Sunday’s first game of a doubleheader with the Mets. The Nats came up a bit short in the 6-5 setback.
Fedde lasted six innings for the no-decision, but gave up a three-run shot to Asdrúbal Cabrera in the first inning and a two-run homer to Wilmer Flores in the third.
Down 5-0, the Nats climbed back into the game to tie it at 5-5 before an Amed Rosario homer lifted the Mets to the final margin.
Fedde’s velocity seemed well down from his normal mid-90’s. His fastball was clocked at 89-90 mph on the scoreboard, which even described the pitch as a “changeup.”
“I couldn’t tell between his changeup or his fastball,” said manager Dusty Baker. “They were saying changeup up on the board. Looked like they were fastballs to me. He wasn’t throwing as hard as he usually does.”
Baker seemed a bit puzzled about why Fedde’s velocity was lower than usual, because he had only 90 1/3 innings in the minors this season.
“I don’t know. I think he has under 100 innings this year,” Baker said. “I don’t know what the problem is.”
Fedde said he actually felt more comfortable in his third big league start, his second at Nats Park.
“Much more relaxed. Normal. My stuff just wasn’t as good today as it was the last two,” Fedde said. “But in the sense of composure, I felt much better.”
Fedde also had no answer as to why his velocity wasn’t as good as it had been for most of the season.
“I don’t know. My stuff just wasn’t what I was used to today,” Fedde said. “I wasn’t really checking the velo and whatnot, but I was just more worried about my command. My fastball was up a lot today. I got away with it a few times, and other times it got hit out of the park.
“I’m not too worried about it. It’s something that it’s late in the year, maybe just the body’s a little sore, a little tired.”
Fedde gave up seven hits and five runs. Both of the big hits allowed were homers. He walked two and struck out five. Baker left Fedde in for the sixth inning with the Nats down 5-1. Fedde managed to get out of the sixth despite two more singles and a walk by striking out Brandon Nimmo looking. He finished with 112 pitches, 67 for strikes.
Fedde used his fastball to get Nimmo, and even mixed in his curveball, which was a pitch of emphasis for pitching coach Mike Maddux when Fedde arrived this season.
“When I got back up here for Colorado, me and Maddux talked about really bringing it back, and maybe making the slider a little harder,” Fedde said. “It’s been something that I think has helped me a lot. I have four true pitches to keep guys off balance.”
Fedde mentioned his first start July 30 against the Rockies. On Aug. 6 he started at Wrigley Field against the Cubs, and 21 days later he was back with the Nats. His last start was Aug. 21 for Triple-A Syracuse at Lehigh Valley.
“I guess it’s one of the stranger parts of the game,” Fedde said of his erratic schedule. “I haven’t been on a true five-day rotation in awhile, but I guess you have to prepare like you’re going to pitch every fifth day, and if you get pushed back, treat it like a rain delay. You travel a lot, but you just have to pretend it’s not happening.”
So Fedde’s next plan is to see what is going on with his fastball velocity. The minor league season wraps up in one week, Sept. 4. He would love the opportunity to stay up with the Nats and contribute more before the regular season wraps up.
“We always joke that you want to do anything you can to get back up there,” Fedde said. “It’s night and day the difference in, just quality of life. But up here, everyone’s talking about taking advantage of our opportunities. We want the big guys to get back and make a real run in the playoffs, but we’re just going to try to fill in and wait for those guys to get back and do their job.”