WASHINGTON -- One pitch, one out, Erick Fedde was off. That was the high point of his Tuesday outing.

The rest was troublesome. Fedde was taken off the mound in the fourth inning after recording 11 outs and allowing nine runs. Atlanta hit two homers and walked four times against him. Fedde recorded just seven swings and misses on 93 pitches. Atlanta hitters were never fooled, off-balance or uncomfortable. The outing was abysmal and laid a negative foundation for an 11-8 loss to the Braves.

Washington now has a full-fledged fifth starter problem. And a partial fourth starter issue.

Injured Max Scherzer didn’t mind chatting Tuesday, but he had little to say. Scherzer said he felt well during his bullpen session before his last outing, then well during the game itself July 25. His new rhomboid muscle strain was found the next day. The earliest Scherzer can come off the injured list is Aug. 5. He’s missed two starts against first-place Atlanta because of mid-back problems. Washington has lost both by wide margins.

Joe Ross lost the first game; Fedde the second Tuesday night. Austin Voth remains injured and “building strength” in his arm, according to Davey Martinez. Washington’s starting pitch depth at the back end of the rotation was limited and talent-challenged when the season began. Those issues have increased out since Jeremy Hellickson pitched poorly and was injured, then Voth went down. Scherzer’s back trouble exacerbated the situation. The trade deadline arriving Wednesday at 4 p.m. truncates the hunt for reinforcements. 

 

Washington could use a fifth starter. It could use bullpen help. Its asset pile is not deep. The decision is muddled.

And, the value of a fifth starter for the remaining two months is low. Ten starts, maybe 60 innings, of no use in the postseason -- assuming Scherzer returns to health. Martinez said Aug. 5 is not a “target date” for Scherzer. Rather, it’s simply the first day he can come off the injured list. 

Which means Fedde (4.67 ERA) and Ross (9.85) are in line to pitch again barring a trade. 

“With Voth being injured, one of these two guys have to step up,” Martinez said. “I’ve said that before. We feel like they belong here, but they have to start making pitches and keeping us in the ball game.”

Fedde has not pitched more than six innings in a start this season. He has struck out 30 and walked 25. His fielding-independent pitching (5.12) suggested his 3.40 ERA coming into Tuesday’s start was a mirage. Tuesday’s pummeling put his actual ERA more in line with his FIP.

“The situation we’re in, especially against the Braves right here, every game’s extremely important,” Fedde said. “Every time I step out on the mound, no matter what situation the team is in, I’m trying to throw well. Just didn’t go that way [Tuesday].”

He’ll get another chance, as will Ross, unless something is done by 4 p.m. Wednesday.

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