Nats shut out by old pal Fedde, split doubleheader (updated)

CHICAGO – Erick Fedde admitted this would be a big night for him. He was drafted by the Nationals in 2014, pitched for them 102 times from 2017-22, knew he deserved to be cut loose after all that and a 5.41 ERA.

Since then, Fedde has been a different pitcher. He rediscovered himself last season in the Korean Baseball Organization, winning league MVP honors after going 20-3 with a 2.00 ERA and 209 strikeouts. That earned him a two-year contract with the White Sox, for whom he has continued to pitch well.

So tonight’s start, the first time he’s ever faced the Nationals, was going to be memorable for the 31-year-old, no matter the outcome. But especially this outcome.

Behind seven scoreless innings from the most surprising ace in the majors, the White Sox coasted to a 4-0 victory to salvage a split of today’s doubleheader. The Nats never stood a chance against their old pitcher.

Fedde cruised the whole way, surrendering two singles, one double and nothing else to the 24 batters he faced in total. He struck out six, didn’t issue any walks and departed after 99 pitches that allowed him to improve to 4-0 with a 2.60 ERA for a Chicago club that has won only 13 games this season.

"I tried to downplay it all week, tried not to think too much about it," he said. "Every start I go out there, I want to try to pitch well and do my thing. But of course, it's always in the back of your head. You want to pitch well. I'm glad it went the way I wanted it to. It's a good feeling." 

It was the kind of performance Fedde flashed from time to time in D.C. – he twice tossed seven scoreless innings in 2021 – but certainly not the kind of outing he could consistently provide for his first organization. This is who he appears to be now, though, and the White Sox are thrilled he’s doing it for them.

Facing the organization’s former No. 5 starter, the current No. 5 starter took the mound tonight seeking to once again keep damage to a minimum. Mitchell Parker has excelled at that in his first month in the majors, never allowing more than three runs in any of his first five starts.

He gave himself no room for error tonight, all because of one big swing on a pitch that wasn’t at all bad.

With two on and two out in the bottom of the third, Parker tried to sneak a 1-1 splitter past an unsuspecting Andrew Vaughn. The pitch wound up below the strike zone, but Vaughn somehow managed to go down there and still drive the ball deep to center, the ball clearing the wall for a three-run homer.

"It was a good pitch. But good pitch, good hitter," Parker said. "A little disappointing, because it was a good one. Felt good. But it's going to happen. Just have to move on."

There wasn’t much Parker could do about that, but his real mistake may have come moments earlier when walked Tommy Pham to keep the inning alive, giving Vaughn the opportunity to bat with two runners on.

Even so, by night’s end Parker still only had those three runs charged to his name, keeping his streak alive. And for that, he could thank Jordan Weems.

Weems inherited a bases-loaded, no-out jam from Parker in the bottom of the sixth, a nightmare scenario for any reliever. The right-hander responded with as brilliant an escape act as one could conjure up: He got Paul DeJong to ground into a 1-2-3 double play on his second pitch, then got Andrew Benintendi to fly out to left on his third pitch to end the inning before anyone had time to process it.

"That was awesome," Parker said. "I owe him a lot."

So the pitching staff did its job to keep the game close, at least until Jackson Rutledge (summoned from Triple-A Rochester to serve as the extra man for the doubleheader) surrendered Vaughn’s second homer of the game.

It wouldn’t mean much, though, if the lineup didn’t find a way to score at least three runs. And on this night, against that familiar face, even one run felt like a colossal challenge.

"I thought he threw the ball really well," Davey Martinez said of Fedde. "He mixed all his pitches up. The biggest thing was (that) his misses were around the zone. When you can do that, you get guys to really start swinging the bat and chasing. I thought he did a good job of that."

Game 42 lineups: Nats at White Sox
Game 41 lineups: Nats at White Sox

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