Fedde ends his '20 with career-high 7 frames

September 24th, 2020

WASHINGTON -- began his 2020 regular season in the bullpen. He ended it with the longest start of his career.

The right-hander gave the Nationals a career-high seven innings in their 12-3 loss to the Phillies on Wednesday night at Nationals Park. He struck out five, walked one and allowed three runs on five hits, including a pair of homers by Bryce Harper, over 103 pitches in his final start of the season.

Fedde posted a 2-4 record with a 4.29 ERA over 11 games (eight starts) this year.

"[I] definitely think I was able to end up moving forward in a sense of the way my stuff is,” Fedde said. “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."

Most pitchers know if they are going to be a starter or a reliever when the season begins. But that was not the case for Fedde this year. He was in the running for the fifth-starter role after elected not to play this year. earned the spot, and Fedde became an option as a long reliever in the bullpen.

Fedde's job shifted to starter-on-demand when began dealing with carpal tunnel neuritis in his right (throwing) hand early in July. Fedde made two spot starts, and he was moved into the rotation when Strasburg went on the IL on Aug. 15.

The Nats had seen what Fedde could do when he shared the fifth-starter role in the past, but this was the first season in which he took on the task consistently. Nationals manager Dave Martinez saw progress as the starts went on this year.

“What I really liked with him, he usually gets 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 bit more stamina and he’s starting to go a little longer, a little longer. … 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 he’s done well.”

Even when his role was in flux, Fedde prepared as if he would get the nod. To him, it was easier to keep his arm ready for a start and possibly end up pitching in relief versus having to quickly ramp up to throw extended innings. Fedde also soaked up the advice from the other starting pitchers, including encouraging messages from Strasburg from afar.

“[Strasburg] worked big with me through text on a lot of the mental side of how to attack hitters and things that I felt,” Fedde said. “Today, even after the game, I talked with Max [Scherzer] about some of the at-bats I had. Those guys are, in reality, two pretty much Hall of Fame-type pitchers to work with. I’m just trying to take full advantage.”

Fedde ended his season on a high note. In his final three starts, he went 1-1 with a 2.50 ERA and 16 strikeouts. He held opponents to a .182 batting average (12-for-66). His next outing isn’t scheduled until Spring Training, where he’ll look to build on this year’s work in taking another shot at the rotation.

“I’m pleased on how he accepted both roles,” Martinez said. “Moving forward, we’ve got an opportunity to do something with him knowing that he can potentially be the fifth starter here next year. I told him he did great, I appreciate him hanging in there. Come to Spring Training ready to battle again.”