Washington Nationals: Erick Fedde will return soon

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 30: Erick Fedde
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 30: Erick Fedde /

Although Washington Nationals pitcher Erick Fedde was optioned to the Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs, his future remains bright. A look at his progress.

Washington Nationals prospect Erick Fedde should not feel bad.

As expected, the 25-year-old righty was optioned to Triple-A Syracuse to start the season. There, he can pitch on regular rest every five days until the Nats need him in Washington. Yes, they will need him the moment either A.J. Cole gets into trouble or an injury hits the rotation.

With the signing of Jeremy Hellickson to a minor-league deal, the already long odds for Fedde making the team lengthened. He knew going in the deal when general manager Mike Rizzo stated the fifth starter’s spot was Cole’s before Spring Training.

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However, given two starts and four long relief appearances, Fedde showed growth in his game.

That out pitch which eluded him during Fedde’s brief stint last year in Washington was on display in Florida. A generous radar gun painted his fastballs around 97. A true reading of 95 is more likely. The better part was his movement on the hater. He had swing and miss stuff.

All good signs for the season ahead.

Although control remains an issue, six walks over 14.2 spring innings, Fedde dictated the tempo of his games. The command lacking last year, pitching out of reflex instead of control, was not on display this year. The signs are there for a maturing pitcher.

When he starts his International League schedule, Fedde knows he will not change roles again like last year. The conversion from a starter to the bullpen before going back and rushed to Washington had to blow his confidence. In 2018, the focus is now developing into a solid mid-rotation starter the Nats need.

If he can continue to fool Triple-A batters with the movement on his fastball, then Fedde will return sooner to the majors. His next task is improving the breaking balls while inducing smarter contact from hitters. A better grasp of the strike zone helps too.

Too often young pitchers waste pitches after getting ahead in the count, a problem Fedde has. He must learn to challenge batters on 1-2 and 2-2 counts without running the count full. As with most pitchers not fully confident in their stuff, mistakes begat bigger mistakes.

Still, he is a better option than Tommy Milone and Edwin Jackson. Both veteran hurlers struggle with command and turn average outings into bad ones.

Next: 5 things Nats must do this year

No one wants to get shuffled back to the minors, but Fedde has the chance to develop without last season’s pressure. The right tools for him to learn.