With left-hander Gio Gonzalez gone and right-hander Joe Ross returning from injury, the door is wide open for right-hander Erick Fedde to take advantage and grab one of the remaining spots in the Nationals rotation for 2019.
The focus for Fedde in the offseason is figuring out a way to be durable enough to make it through an entire season. So his plan is to add weight and add muscle.
“Offseason plans are usually the same. It’s always been put on weight, put on weight for me,” Fedde said Sunday at Nationals Winterfest. “Changed up a little bit of training this year and I’m already up 15 pounds. So, yeah, good start.”
Fedde was listed at 6-foot-4 and 195 lbs. He has been down to 180 lbs. Fedde wants to get to at least 205 lbs.
“We’re trying to come in at 205, so that’s 22 pounds, so we got like seven more to go,” Fedde said. “Shoot for 210 because you know spring training you’re always sweating and it’s miserable and you’ll probably lose some weight.”
Fedde has brought in his personal team to help him gain weight. It starts with eating full meals, and lots of them.
“Yeah, my girlfriend Kate has been on me constantly, like you can’t get up from the table until you finish your food,” Fedde said. “I eat like five to six meals a day, and just lifting has been a little bit heavier this year. Just trying to really get some strength, and so far I feel really great and I think it’s going well.”
Fedde started three games in the majors in 2017. He made 11 starts in 2018, amassing 50 1/3 innings. He started 14 games in the minors last season, totaling 71 1/3 innings. To make 30-plus starts this season and be the pitcher he wants to be, he has to be strong enough to make it from March through October.
He knows he has to change the way he operates. To do that, he needs to stay healthy by holding weight, which is tough to do when you are burning thousands and thousands of calories pitching.
“I think the way I’m looking at it is more of a trial and error,” Fedde said. “Because I’ve had a couple seasons now and things that I’ve been doing that haven’t quite worked. Now I’m going about it in a very different manner, just trying to ... before was going more for the limber and lean look and now I’m just trying to get bigger. I look around the clubhouse, and especially in the starting rotation there are a lot of really big dudes. I am trying to look a little more like them and see if I can get through this season.”
Fedde knows his top goal - and the goal for starters - is to try to get to six or seven innings.
“My thing is, I think it’s going deep in games,” Fedde said. “I think this year our team struggled the most just from our bullpen getting worn out. You know, as a starter, I want to not just go five and get out of there; I want to go six and seven and give guys days off. I think that’s something I’m looking for the most.”
As for pitching and his strategy with his stuff, Fedde said he needs to stay aggressive to get hitters out.
“I think it’s more just attacking guys,” Fedde said. “I had ... this year was just the first time I ever walked a decent amount of people probably in my life. I think maybe just being more aggressive and guys seeing four-pitch at-bats rather than seven, it’s going to get me deep in the game.”
Fedde many times has reached out to Scherzer and Strasburg about pitching strategy, but would he go to them for maintaining body weight and strength for 162 games each season?
“No doubt. That’s something especially this year too, Max told me something that he’s been doing... he doesn’t just take off the full offseason and start up high,” Fedde said. “He throws like twice a week from 60 feet to just to kind of keep oiled up. I tried that this offseason, so hopefully that will help. I love Stephen. He’s close to me in California and we text every once in a while, and whenever I make a quick trip out there, I try to hook up with him.”
But the bottom line for Fedde is he wants to make an impact with the Nats in 2019, and that means as a full-fledged starter that can start games and amass 220 innings.
“It’s everything. This is a big one for me, maybe it’s my last year of options,” Fedde said. “Big one just to kind of prove that I belong. I’m just going to fight for everything that I can, and the goal is to go out there and prove that I should be an everyday guy.”