PHOENIX (AP) — It seemed that Erick Fedde’s spot in Washington’s starting rotation was in jeopardy now that three-time All-Star Stephen Strasburg is close to his return from the injured list.
After Sunday’s brilliant performance, that might not be the case.
Fedde threw seven scoreless innings, Yadiel Hernandez hit a go-ahead, pinch-hit homer and the Nationals beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 3-0.
It was the top outing of the year for the right-handed Fedde (3-4), who used 97 pitches to navigate seven innings while allowing just three hits and striking out four.
“That’s probably the best I’ve seen him throw,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “He had command of all his pitches. He was pounding the strike zone and kept the ball down.”
With the game scoreless, Fedde walked Stephen Vogt to start the seventh but got the next batter, Domingo Leyba, to ground into a double play. That dropped his ERA to 4.35 over eight starts this season.
Fedde is from Las Vegas, which is about a five-hour drive from Phoenix. The pitcher had his family, girlfriend and college buddies watching at Chase Field and he put on quite a show.
“I had four pitches today,” Fedde said. “A ton of groundballs. That usually means my sinker is working. I was able to throw a bunch of different pitches at the bottom of the zone.”
The Nationals’ rotation is full of talented veterans like Max Scherzer, Patrick Corbin and Jon Lester. Once Strasburg returns, that means Fedde or Joe Ross will probably be the odd man out. Fedde said he’s fine with working out of the bullpen if that’s what Martinez decides, but acknowledged he gave his manager something to think about.
“I got stronger as the day went on,” Fedde said.
Hernandez led off the eighth with a home run that curved just inside the left-field foul pole. The Nationals followed his second homer of the year with three more hits and two more runs in the inning, including an RBI double from Trea Turner and an RBI single by Kyle Schwarber.
Daniel Hudson pitched the eighth and Brad Hand handled the ninth to finish the shutout. Hand struck out two and earned his fourth save.
Stefan Crichton (0-2) gave up three runs on four hits in the eighth.
Arizona’s Luke Weaver retired the first eight Nationals batters he faced and pitched four scoreless innings before being pulled from the game after just 68 pitches. The Diamondbacks said he left with “right shoulder discomfort.”
It’s more injury news for the D-backs, who already have 10 players on the injured list. They’re missing five of their eight regular position players, two starting pitchers and three relievers. Weaver said he felt good after the game and that the move was “precautionary.” He’s getting an MRI on Monday.
“This has been a brutal week,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. “I’ve not seen anything like this for this stretch of time. I keep waking up each day thinking it’s going to be a healthy, clean day but then there’s a surprise.”
Arizona went 3-4 over its seven-game homestand and fell to 18-23 for the season. Washington improved to 16-20.
The Diamondbacks traded infielder Wyatt Mathisen to the Tampa Bay Rays for cash considerations. Mathisen played in 23 games this season and batted .119 with one homer and eight RBIs. He was demoted to Triple-A Reno earlier this month.
Diamondbacks: Lovullo said RHP Chris Devenski (sprained right ulnar collateral ligament) is working with doctors to figure whether he needs to have surgery on his throwing elbow. Devenski was put on the 60-day injured list on Saturday.
The Nationals travel for a four-game series against the Chicago Cubs. They’ll put LHP Jon Lester (0-1, 2.25) on the mound to face Chicago RHP Adbert Alzolay (1-3, 4.50).
The Diamondbacks travel for a four-game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. They’ll send LHP Madison Bumgarner (4-2, 4.12) to the mound on Monday to face Dodgers RHP Walker Buehler (1-0, 3.45)
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