Pitcher Fedde excels in his debut with Nats
Inning-ending double plays usually don’t invoke bursts of emotion in Grapefruit League games as they do when games matter, but the one Erick Fedde induced Saturday against the New York Mets in Port St. Lucie, Fla., was different. It concluded the third inning at First Data Field and terminated the only threat Fedde confronted in his first start in a game of any kind wearing a Nationals uniform. And once Neil Walker was retired at first base, Fedde jogged off the diamond, skipping over the first base line with a little pep, his successful day opposing the Mets’ lineup with most of their regulars behind him.
“I feel like this was one of my first real chances to go out and start against a team with a lot of their guys playing,” Fedde said. “Just to get into a jam and get out of it, I was excited. It felt good to prove myself a little bit in a small sense.”
Three years removed from Tommy John surgery, Fedde is the Nationals’ consensus top pitching prospect, a designation he assumed when Washington traded Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez to the White Sox in December. He has pitched up to the title this spring. After surrendering a hit and a walk — both in the third inning — across three scoreless frames Saturday, the right-hander, whose fastball touched 95 mph, has logged seven scoreless innings in three outings.
“He showed good poise, good demeanor,” Nationals Manager Dusty Baker said after the 6-0 win Saturday. “He’s aggressive. He got behind two batters and came back to even the count. He threw the ball well.”
Earlier in the day, Baker said he was impressed by the 24-year-old Fedde’s mind-set and receptiveness and compared him to 1990 American League Cy Young winner Bob Welch. Baker said Fedde’s lankiness, the way he throws downhill and his competitiveness reminded him of Welch, who played with Baker for the Dodgers.
“I watched him last year,” Baker said. “They had him on the video up there a lot at our stadium.”
There’s a strong chance Baker could watch Fedde on the field at Nationals Park this season after Fedde climbed to Class AA Harrisburg in 2016. He posted a 3.99 ERA in five starts with Harrisburg and will start this season there or with Class AAA Syracuse. But if he continues at the rate he has gone the past two seasons, he could be in Washington by the end of 2017 . . . .
Fedde, Vance Worley, Austin Voth, Jeremy Guthrie and Rafael Martin combined to pitch the shutout, and Michael A. Taylor continued his standout spring with two hits to boost his batting average to .423 . . . .
Catcher Matt Wieters is scheduled to start in his Nationals debut Sunday against the Houston Astros. Wieters, who signed with the club Feb. 24, is expected to play three or four innings, according to Baker . . . .
Sometime before the game Sunday, Max Scherzer will face batters for the second time this season on a back field at Ballpark of the Palm Beaches in another live batting practice session as he continues progressing from a stress fracture in his right ring finger.