Fedde quiets Nats as Vaughn brings the noise with 2 HRs

Right-hander's 7 scoreless frames, first baseman's 4 RBIs lead White Sox to twin bill split

May 15th, 2024

CHICAGO -- Andrew Vaughn’s hot streak has modestly covered his last seven games after the White Sox first baseman had the worst start of his Major League career.

For right-handed starter Erick Fedde, the personal success rate has covered most of his 2024 return to the United States after a breakout season in Korea.

The two combined their individual runs of offensive power and mound dominance to lead the White Sox to a 4-0 win over the Nationals in Game 2 of a doubleheader Tuesday at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Washington claimed the Game 1 victory, 6-3, leaving Chicago (13-30) at 10-8 over its last 18.

Vaughn homered twice while Fedde (4-0) allowed three hits over seven scoreless innings, striking out six before departing at 99 pitches (60 strikes) and dropping his ERA to 2.60. It was his first start against the Nationals, for whom he pitched from 2017-22 and recorded a 5.41 ERA over 102 games (88 starts).

“I was trying to really downplay it all week and try not to think too much of it,” said a smiling Fedde of facing the Nationals. “Every start I go out there, I want to try to pitch well and do my thing.

“Of course, it’s always in the back of your head, you want to pitch extra well [against your former team]. I’m glad it went the way I wanted to, and it’s a good feeling.”

Although Fedde didn’t issue a walk, he felt as if his command of the zone wasn’t great. But falling behind at 2-0 or 3-1 in the count within the 31-year-old’s new pitching world doesn’t necessarily mean a fastball is coming. There are plenty of options to get out of the at-bat.

“Just the ability to throw 2-0 changeups or cutters behind in the count,” Fedde said. “We talk about just jabbing with the fastball in the sense of keeping guys off-balance. I feel like I’ve been able to do that all year and it’s been great. … Any time I can go seven shutty, I’ll take it.”

“His split was good. His cutter was good tonight,” Washington manager Dave Martinez said. “He mixed all of his pitches up. The biggest thing was his misses were around the zone. And when you can do that, you get guys to start really swinging the bats and chasing.”

Tuesday’s work dropped Fedde’s ERA to 1.14 over his past five home starts and 1.93 over his past six starts overall. He received relief help from Jordan Leasure and Michael Kopech to close out the first White Sox shutout victory of the season, but it was Vaughn’s bat providing the biggest support.

With two on, two outs and a 1-1 count in the third, Vaughn connected on a Mitchell Parker splitter out of the zone for a Statcast-projected 401-foot drive to center. He added a 411-foot blast to left in the eighth, giving him a .346 average with three doubles, three homers, six RBIs and a 1.222 OPS over his past seven games.

Vaughn’s average on the season still resides at .211 to go with 13 RBIs and a .600 OPS. But he’s moving in the right direction.

“Look at the results from the first month, and it wasn’t very good. I just had to say, ‘Screw it, let’s go play ball,’” Vaughn said. “You have to flush it. Take the positive of hitting the ball hard, everything to keep you going day by day.”

“He's been coming little by little the last seven to 10 days,” White Sox manager Pedro Grifol said. “He's been swinging it better and better and better. It seems like he's locked in right now."

When Fedde came to the White Sox via a two-year, $15 million deal in December, Vaughn didn’t know much beyond his KBO greatness.

“That was impressive,” said Vaughn of Fedde’s numbers in Korea, where the right-hander went 20-6 with a 2.00 ERA to win MVP honors in 2023.

Now, Fedde sits atop the White Sox rotation. He entered the seventh inning on Tuesday at 89 pitches, but there was little doubt on Grifol’s part about keeping him in the game. Fedde cruised through the final frame, and according to Statcast, recorded six swings and misses and 18 called strikes in his outing.

“He's a really good pitcher. He's composed out there,” Grifol said. “He throws strikes, he competes his [butt] off and he's got weapons to do it, too."

“[Grifol] has been great with me,” Fedde said. “He’s given me a great leash in the sense of if I tell him I feel good, it’s mine. He just told me kind of hitter to hitter going out there. That way I know I could leave it all out.”