The Nationals pulled out a gutsy victory last night, salvaging the last game of a three game set with the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday night by a score of 1-0, pulling the team up to a record of 15-30. The game’s lone run came courtesy of a bases loaded single by Cesar Hernandez in the bottom of the sixth inning, which sent Victor Robles home and put the Nats onto a lead they kept for the rest of the game.
Erick Fedde took the mound in his ninth start of the season:
6.0 IP, W, 4 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 SO, 3.55 ERA
Wow, now that’s a statline. For as consistent as he’s been over the last few years, Fedde has delivered throughout the month of May 2022, posting a 1.99 ERA throughout the month.
Yes, I had to verify that number myself. 27.2 innings, six earned runs. It checks.
Fedde’s excellent month of May clashes with the horrendous April he had, when he allowed twelve earned runs for a 6.00 ERA, and struggled to get control of his pitches down. Even when he has done relatively well, the Nats’ inconsistent offense has given him no guarantees, with the team scoring as many as 10 runs in a Fedde start (May 3rd against Colorado), but getting completely shut down in even the very next game (2 runs on May 4th). For any pitcher still trying to figure out their command, and especially one getting in a groove, having an inconsistent offense is of no help at all.
But there are two big questions when it comes to Erick Fedde and how to view him.
The first? What exactly is the team’s plan for him the next two seasons? He still has two years left of team control, but he’s going to be 30 next year. He’s shown potential in years past, and unfortunately has never been able to properly piece it together for more than a few starts at a time, if even that. It’s entirely possible (and honestly very likely) his incredible run in May is nothing more than a fluke, and in June and the months after he’ll come back to Earth, and something similar to his April statistics, or his 5.47 ERA in 2021.
My best guess is that the Nats will likely continue to use Fedde as a fifth starter through the rebuild. As the team is dying for arms that can go more than 3 batters without melting down, there’s not really anyone else to turn to. Such an explanation also provides rationale for why Ausitn Voth continues to get chances from the team when he’s demonstrated he doesn’t exactly provide much. A 9.35 ERA in 18 games doesn’t keep getting opportunities in most situations.
In the event the Nationals don’t use Fedde as a starter, he’ll still keep appearing out of the bullpen until his time in DC is over after 2024. Which means he’s not going anywhere, anytime soon. Because of that, we have a second question to answer in DC as fans. That question? How exactly do we cope with this erratic pitcher who can never truly piece it together?
I thought about this, and the answer is to just enjoy it. Fedde’s become a meme in the Nats kingdom, and at this point, I just appreciate watching him come on the mound and spinning the wheel of mystery. Is he going to pitch 7 scoreless innings? Give up 4 home runs in 2 innings and get chased in 3? Who knows!
When a team is rebuilding, there is much to enjoy, and one of those things is watching players perform without expectation. It’s a lot easier to laugh at Patrick Corbin having the worst stretch of his career when the Nationals probably weren’t going to win that day anyway. So what do we do with this weird case of Erick Fedde? Relax, have some fun, and laugh. It’s the most we can while he’s still here.