Washington Nationals: Erick Fedde turning back into a starter

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(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /
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Last night, the Washington Nationals top pitching prospect, Erick Fedde, was back as a starter in Syracuse and he didn’t pitch well at all

It sent shockwaves to most Washington Nationals fans when it was announced that the top pitching prospect, Erick Fedde, was going to be turned into a reliever for this season only in the minor leagues. However, has that thought process changed within the organization?

On Sunday afternoon, Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post tweeted that Fedde was going to make the start against the Buffalo Bison (Toronto Blue Jays) and he could still be both a starter/reliever this year:

In six outings as a reliever at Triple-A Syracuse, Fedde has a 3.86 ERA and has given up four runs and struck out seven batters in 9.1 innings. The strikeout number seems low, but it is when you consider four of those strikeouts came in one game against Lehigh Valley back on June 16. At Double-A Harrisburg, he had 19 strikeouts in ten relief outings.

Last night, it was a rough outing for Fedde against the Bison. He gave up six runs in the first inning and did not record an out on 31 pitches (19 strikes). Of course, he will throw more pitches each time he goes out there, but it’s definitely not the way he wanted to start out as a starter again.

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It’s puzzling as to why the Washington Nationals would decide to turn the 24-year-old right-hander back into a starter since he was seen as someone who could’ve helped the bullpen later this year.

However, with the recent struggles by Tanner Roark and the inconsistency of Joe Ross, Fedde still has a chance to help the rotation this year. Due to having Francisco Rodriguez and Kevin Jepsen on minor league deals (neither has pitched yet), there is depth at Syracuse in the bullpen to where the Nats can make this move. Plus, Edwin Jackson has pitched well in the rotation since joining the Chiefs.

Before last night’s bad outing, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post wrote about what the Washington Nationals might do with Fedde going forward:

"“So now, Fedde will return to the rotation, meaning the Nationals could call on him as a September starter, or for relief work, and feel confident that he is adequately familiar with both roles.”"

Fedde has had Tommy John surgery in the past, so the Washington Nationals are going to be careful with his innings. This year, he has thrown 65.2 innings in both roles after throwing 121 all of last season. At the very least, the Nats have done a good job of managing his innings up to this point.

After this season, Fedde is going to be a starter, if he’s still with the Nats organization. However, you have to wonder if this is going to have an impact long term on his development. Being in New York, I’ve seen what happens to pitchers like Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain when their roles are toggled back-and-forth.

Now, this is a tough balance for the Nats because they are trying to help the team in the short-term and also look out for the long-term plans. With that being said, the organization has to hope going back-and-forth doesn’t ruin Fedde’s potential as a number three starter.

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One start is nothing to panic about just yet. However, the development of Fedde will be interesting to watch as the season progresses. He has the talent to make it to the big leagues this season, but what role he will be in if he gets there remains to be seen.

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