A change in Erick Fedde’s release point shows promising results

A change in Erick Fedde’s release point shows promising resultsA change in Erick Fedde’s release point shows promising results

On an individual level, the minor leagues are more about development than they are about results.

Implementing adjustments made in the batting cage or a bullpen session during a game is often more critical than a stat line. Players will separate the work that they do on the side and hope that it translates in the heat of competition.

Erick Fedde’s first four starts of the season have been more than just his 2.66 ERA, 0.930 WHIP, and .207 batting average against. It’s been more than his part in the combined no-hitter against Bowie or the 11 strikeouts in only 5.2 innings this past Tuesday night.

For the 26 year-old right-hander, it’s about getting back mechanically to where he was during the 2017 season when he made his MLB debut. Last year, the Nationals identified his release point had lowered throughout the campaign, and they made it a focus this spring for Fedde.

“He was dropping his arm slot a little more than we wanted, and it was flattening out his pitches,” minor league pitching coordinator Paul Menhart said. “It was taking his sinker away and we wanted more vertical movement.”

Looking at the Statcast data on Baseball Savant for Fedde’s MLB appearances, you can see where his release point was at when he was first called up to where he finished last season for both sliders and sinkers.

The most significant drop in the height of his release point occurred towards the end of June 2018 for both of those pitches.

Before 6/28/2018
6/28/2018 and after

“I think last year I got caught in-between a curveball and a slider,” Fedde said. “I kind of lost the feeling for what has always been my good pitch in the slider. Lately, I’ve been trying to focus on that and get back to what I’m good at, and I’ve seen success.”

There isn’t publicly available data for the minor leagues like this, but the Nationals’ organization which gathers those metrics during his starts has been pleased with Fedde’s progress.

“He’s been consistent with his delivery and his arm slot,” Harrisburg Senators’ pitching coach Michael Tejera said. “That’s what we’ve been focusing on with him, especially getting a little behind with his arm slot so he can maintain his finish on top of the baseball. That’s when you create the good movement on the slider and the good life on the fastball.”

“He bought into it, and the outings have proven it’s going to be successful at any level,” Menhart said.

Watch the third strike on each of his 11 strikeouts from Tuesday. Five of them come off the slider that is showing some increased vertical movement that wasn’t there late last year.

“I’m really happy with where I’m at right now in being consistent with the slider,” Fedde said. “At this point, it’s just commanding both sides of the plate. I feel like I have a really good feel for the inside of the plate and I need to keep working on my glove side a little more.”

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