The best surprise so far this season has been the new and improved Erick Fedde. The team lost Stephen Strasburg and Jon Lester early, and there is no way they would be staying afloat without Erick Fedde’s performance. Since April 12, Fedde has pitched in four games and only given up multiple runs once. While this could be seen as just a good run of games, there are some very apparent changes that could mean that this Erick Fedde is here to stay.
Fedde’s hard-hit rate is currently at the lowest it has been throughout his entire career, and he’s in the 70th percentile in all of baseball. That’s hardly elite, but it is very good for a guy who was not even expected to be in this rotation. His FIP is almost a full three runs lower than it was in 2020 and again is at a career low along with his xERA, xFIP, and home run rate.
His K/9 is also the highest it has ever been in his career, and in 22.1 innings this year, he is only three strikeouts away from his 2020 total from 50.1 innings. These are all great signs, but what’s really different?
The biggest difference seems to be in Fedde’s pitch sequencing and, more importantly, his reliance on the cutter. According to Baseball Savant, Fedde is using his cutter 28.7% of the time, up from only 16.6% in 2020. Not only is he using it more, but it is more effective as the batting average against his cutter is only .125, which is down from .259 last year.
He has almost eliminated the use of a traditional four-seam fastball and is leaning mostly on the sinker and cutter. The spin rate and movement on this cutter are the same as their career averages, but Fedde just seems to be more comfortable with this pitch. After his most recent start, Fedde mentioned how the cutter was key to his success and stated that it was actually Max’s cutter.
I don’t think anyone will disagree that Max Scherzer is a great person to learn a cutter from. If the Fedde we have gotten in the past four starts is able to stick around, he is going to make a real difference this year. Keep an eye on his pitch usage the next few games.