January 30, 2023

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Nats are first team to shut out Dodgers in '22

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WASHINGTON — Aug. 29, 2021. Since that date, no team in baseball had found the formula to shut out the Dodgers. Until the Nationals, who entered Wednesday holding the second-highest ERA (5.15) in the Majors, held Los Angeles scoreless for a 1-0 victory in the series finale at Nationals Park.

“I’ve said it before: If we get some starting pitching — deep to me is somewhere in that sixth inning or so — and we get the lead, our bullpen could hold people down,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “Today was an example of that with a really good team and a really good lineup.”

Starter Erick Fedde and relievers Carl Edwards Jr., Kyle Finnegan and Tanner Rainey combined to keep the MLB run leaders off the scoreboard for the first time since the Rockies did so last season in L.A. The Nats avoided a series sweep to gain momentum ahead of Thursday’s opener against Colorado.

“I think first off, you have to give [Fedde] credit, he threw the baseball well,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “He was certainly up for this game and this matchup against us, and you have to tip your hat to him. I thought we had some opportunities at different points in the game but couldn’t get that big hit.”

Let’s take a look at how the Nationals’ pitchers rendered the Dodgers scoreless.

Fedde: 6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 SO, 22 batters faced
Fedde improved to 3-3 while dropping his ERA to 3.55 with a strong 90-pitch performance. He concluded his ninth start of the season by tossing consecutive 1-2-3 innings, and he is only the fifth pitcher this season to hold the Dodgers scoreless in six-plus frames. Fedde has been a highlight of the Nationals’ shorthanded starting rotation, improving his ERA to 1.95 in five starts this month.

What Martinez saw: “We talked … about how much he’s maturing and how much his routine has changed. You see the results from that. He’s been working with [pitching coach Jim] Hickey due diligently in his bullpens, working on pitches, the shape of his pitches, his changeup, his cutter, all that stuff. He goes out there and he competes. I think now he’s got a little bit of confidence behind him, which is really nice.”

Edwards: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 SO, 4 batters faced
Since giving up three runs in his first relief outing with the Nationals on May 10, Edwards has made seven straight scoreless appearances. His work in the seventh inning set the tone for the bullpen to carry Fedde’s momentum. Martinez previously worked with Edwards in the Cubs organization, and he is seeing the kind of pitcher he knew Edwards could be when throwing in the zone and staying healthy.

What Martinez saw: “He developed a changeup, so now he’s got a cutter and a changeup that’s more like a sinker. It’s worked out really well for him, and he’s got a nice curveball. But the biggest thing for him is strikes, strikes — strike one, getting ahead of hitters. He’s really good when he does that.”

Finnegan: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 SO, 5 batters faced
There was nothing easy about Finnegan’s eighth-inning assignment when the Dodgers subbed in Mookie Betts ahead of the top of the order. Finnegan fanned the hot-hitting Betts and, after allowing a single to Trea Turner and intentionally walking Freddie Freeman, retired Justin Turner and Edwin Ríos to set up a save situation for Rainey.

What Martinez saw: “He was pumping fastballs. He was electric today. He threw a couple sliders — one slider he threw to Trea, I was hoping he didn’t [laughs], but he did. Trea’s pretty smart when it comes to that stuff. But other than that, he was really good.”

Rainey: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 0 SO, 5 batters faced
In his first save opportunity since two blown saves this month, Rainey closed out the game in spite of pressure from the Dodgers. Rainey had two runners on and two outs before Will Smith worked a full count in the final at-bat. The Dodgers’ catcher then smoked a ball to the wall in right-center, but Juan Soto tracked it down to seal Rainey’s fourth save of the season.

What Martinez saw: “It was good. I wanted Hickey to go out there and settle him down a little bit, and he did that. He came out pumping 98 [mph] and was good.”

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