Erick Fedde did a lot of things right on Wednesday night, minus a couple of pitches to Bryce Harper. The right-hander ended up finishing the season strong, going seven innings in a hard-luck loss to the Phillies.
Fedde allowed two homers to Harper, but overall just three runs on five hits. He walked one batter and struck out five. The Phillies salvaged the final game of the four-game set over the Nationals 12-3, scoring six runs in the ninth to pull away.
Andrew McCutchen also doubled and came around to score in the third. But the rest of Fedde's line looked good. In the quality start he threw 103 pitches, 64 for strikes.
"Looking back on the start I am happy with it," Fedde said during the postgame Zoom video session. "The first home run to Bryce, I didn't like that pitch, so he punished it. The second one, it's a pitch on my scouting report I like and I think I can live with.
"He gets paid a lot of money, so sometimes you are going to get beat there. I would've liked to keep the ball in the ballpark, obviously, there, but I think I made some good pitches and was pretty efficient and I really liked where I was at."
Harper hit the first homer off of Fedde's 94 mph sinker in the first inning. The second homer was a first-pitch 77.5 mph curveball in the sixth.
"I think both of them were actually pretty decent pitches," said catcher Yan Gomes. "I could've probably tried to speed him up a little bit more. He made the adjustment today, so yeah, hat tip to him."
Juan Soto blasted a two-run shot off Zach Eflin in the ninth, his 13th of the season. But Eflin finished eight innings, allowing three runs on six hits with nine strikeouts and one walk to earn the win.
The big positive from this game, pitching-wise, for the Nats had to be the work of Fedde, and how he has now strung together three solid starts in a row, accumulating a 2.50 ERA in that span.
"He's pitching with a lot of confidence," said manager Davey Martinez on the postgame Zoom video session. "He did well tonight. Threw seven innings, (103) pitches, that's all we can ask. Kept us in the game. These last three starts he has done really, really well. That's an awesome way for him to finish. He won't get another start here. So, he did really well moving forward. He's got something to build on for next year."
Fedde was pushed and pulled all season long, moving from the bullpen to spot starter to fifth starter over a two-month span. Martinez appreciated the strength and stamina Fedde displayed in his 12 appearances.
"What I really liked with him, he used to get to a point about the fourth inning or so where he got tired and he threw a lot of pitches," Martinez said. "It seems like now every outing he's got a little more stamina and he's starting to go a little longer, little longer. The other day in Miami he wanted to finish the game and I told him he had a lot of pitches. Today he threw (103) pitches in seven innings. This is something that he understands if he wants to go deep, his pitch count can't go 120 pitches every outing. He's worked on it and done well.
Fedde points to confidence in all his pitches. He feels right now like he can throw any one of his pitches at any time, and find the strike zone when he wants to.
"He's starting to recognize what he needs to do to actually stay in the game for a lot longer, keep us in the ballgame," Martinez said.
Fedde's second game of the season was a spot start for Stephen Strasburg, who had to eventually be shut down for the season due to carpal tunnel neuritis. The right-hander said he relied on his patience during the first few weeks of the season to build on each appearance. Recently, Fedde has reached out to Strasburg and Max Scherzer for advice on how to be consistent each start.
"He worked big with me just through texts on a lot of the mental side of how to attack hitters and just things that I felt," Fedde said of his recent interaction with Strasburg. "Today, even after the game, I talked with Max about some of the at-bats I had. Those guys are, in reality, pretty much two Hall of Fame-type pitchers to work with. Just trying to take full advantage."
Fedde finishes the season 2-4 with a 4.29 ERA over 11 games with eight starts, and his last three games he gave up only five runs in 18 innings. That's a good foundation for 2021.
"Definitely think I was able to end up moving forward in a sense of the way my stuff is," Fedde said. "I think the last couple of starts I think I have a lot of confidence, just pitching to my strengths. It's nice to end the year with things to build off of rather than things to work on."