Washington Nationals: Erick Fedde set to impress in September

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WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 23 : Starting pitcher Erick Fedde #23 of the Washington Nationals throws to a Philadelphia Phillies batter in the sixth inning at Nationals Park on June 23, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 23 : Starting pitcher Erick Fedde #23 of the Washington Nationals throws to a Philadelphia Phillies batter in the sixth inning at Nationals Park on June 23, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /
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On the whole, Erick Fedde had a very promising last outing for the Washington Nationals. He seems so close to putting it all together to finish off 2018.

The Washington Nationals rotation has been a weakness for much of the season. Erick Fedde had previously been part of that problem, but after a positive outing last time out, he could impress in September.

He still has just a 1-3 record, with a 6.00 ERA in 33 innings so far in 2018. His FIP is currently 4.94, which isn’t spectacular by any means, but it shows he’s pitching better than those awful high-level figures.

But the main reason both his FIP and ERA is his sky-high 1.6 HR/9 in the big leagues. Throughout his minor league career, he had a minuscule 0.5 HR/9 in parts of four seasons.

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For someone who’s primary pitch is his sinking fastball, it seems strange to see that much of a spike coming up from the minor leagues. He’s still leaving his fastball over the heart of the plate, but he’s been getting better.

In his start against the Cardinals, he surrendered a four-run second inning, where he left a slider over the plate for Marcell Ozuna, and a fastball for Matt Carpenter. But outside of that ugly frame, he flat-out dominated.

The only baserunner that reached outside of that inning was a walk to Yadier Molina. He kept the ball down to record four of those 12 outs via the groundball.

He also addressed another of his well-known issues in this start, his lack of a strikeout pitch. He racked up seven strikeouts which tied a career high that he recorded last season against the Chicago Cubs.

He got four swinging strikeouts on his slider in the game, as he was able to get hitters chasing out of the zone. This was something he hadn’t done throughout his major league career, with hitters recording a .617 OPS through two-strike counts this year. That’s a little down from last year where it was .815, but both are way above the league average of .532 in 2018.

With the Nationals rotation likely to start off with Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Tanner Roark, and Joe Ross, Erick Fedde’s performance is going to determine what the team does in the offseason.

The front office still loves Fedde, so if he continues to improve down the stretch, the team may only look to add some veteran depth at Triple-A, rather than making a big splash.

Also worth bearing in mind is that 2019 will be Fedde’s last season with an option remaining. If they went out to get a starter, they could leave Fedde in the minor leagues as depth, but obviously they’d prefer to develop from within where possible.

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Erick Fedde has a legitimate chance to win a rotation spot in 2019 with the Washington Nationals. To do so, he’ll need to continue to show the improvements he had on full display in his last start.

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