The Washington Nationals had a fifth starter battle in Spring Training. It’s now August, and that battle is still raging on with the playoffs on the line.
The Washington Nationals would have a daunting World Series rotation, if healthy: Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Patrick Corbin, Anibal Sanchez. There are only 2-3 teams in baseball that can even compare to what the Nats have in this regard.
Fedde and Ross both opened their respective seasons from the bullpen as Jeremy Hellickson had the inside track to the fifth starters spot. Hellickson hurt his shoulder in late May, so Fedde was asked to take his position.
As a starter this season, Fedde has posted a 4.38 ERA in just under 50 innings pitched, spanning ten starts. He has a .285 opponents batting average allowed, a .824 OPS allowed, and a 5.45 FIP. The advanced metrics are sour on Fedde, and even his baseline stats aren’t too favorable.
As a result, Ross got an opportunity to show what he had. He got his game stretched out at Triple-A Fresno at the end of May and most of June, so he came back ready for this starting job.
In just 16.2 innings pitched as a starter this season, Ross has a 1.62 ERA, a .203 opponents BAA, a .580 opponents OPS allowed, and a 3.94 FIP.
These numbers aren’t something out of the blue for Ross; the Nats know what his upside is. He put it on display in 2016, throwing 105 innings and posting a 3.43 ERA and 3.49 FIP.
With Scherzer’s injury extending longer and longer, the Nats will need Fedde and Ross to both keep pitching well as the Nats enter a race for two coveted Wild Card spots.
On Wednesday, manager Dave Martinez said the Nats are going to make sure Scherzer is 100% before he returns. With a long layoff between his last start, the chances he’ll need to make a rehab start increase. This means he’ll be on the Injured List for a while longer.
Strasburg, Corbin, and Sanchez are great pitchers, but the Nats need to be able to win starts with Fedde and Ross on the mound to win a playoff spot.