Washington Nationals: Don’t count Erick Fedde out just yet


Washington Nationals prospect Erick Fedde has an uphill battle to win a rotation spot in spring training. But he should not be written off yet.

Now that Washington Nationals’ pitchers and catchers have reported to West Palm Beach, position battles can officially start. One of the most intriguing of these will be the Nats fifth starter.

A.J. Cole has been initially tabbed for that role by Mike Rizzo. Not an overly surprising revelation. And I would still expect him to start the season at the tail end of the rotation, but Erick Fedde could still be a dark horse in the race.

A strong showing in this spring from the former first rounder may well force the hand of management to start him in the rotation. And he certainly has the raw talent to do so.

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In his three starts last season, his arsenal looked ready for the big leagues. A mid-90s fastball, hard breaking slider, and handy changeup. However, when it came to pitching against more advanced hitters, he couldn’t find a way to put them away. Frequently getting into two strike counts, but still allowing hard contact.

Fedde also spent a portion of last season attempting to transition to a relief pitcher. That was until the Nats resolved their bullpen issues via the trade with the Oakland Athletics. He then reverted back to being a starter.

The unsettled nature of his season, may have contributed to his major league struggles. As well as some forearm trouble that lead to Fedde being shut down in early September.

After a full off-season of rest and a revamped Nationals pitching staff around him, he may be able to enhance his approach to hitters. Something that will be intriguing to keep an eye on during his second spring training in the major league camp.

If he can use his impressive stuff to get that crucial third strike or make hitters chase bad pitches for weak contact, it would be a huge step in the right direction.

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Whether this is enough to win the final rotation spot over the heavy favorite Cole is a different question. But this is by no means a done deal, and Fedde could surprise and make a strong case.