April 23, 2018

Minor League Monday: Nats top pitching prospect takes the loss, but impresses in MLB debut

Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images.

The Nationals called up top pitching prospect Erick Fedde to make his major on Sunday, filling in for the injured Stephen Strasburg. Fedde is the No. 3 overall prospect in the Nationals’ system and No. 70 in Baseball America’s top-100 prospects.

Fedde has 2017 with both the Double-A Harrisburg Senators, and the Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs. With Harrisburg, Fedde posted a 3-3 record with a 3.04 ERA, and 54 strikeouts in 56.1 innings. In Syracuse, Fedde pitching to a 1-1 record with a 5.57 ERA with 15 strikeouts over 21 innings.

Fedde was moved to the bullpen for parts of the 2017 season as the Nationals struggling bullpen on the MLB level could look to Fedde to help down the road. However, Fedde didn’t succeed coming out of the bullpen, prompting a move back into the starting rotation.

Fedde was named the starting pitcher for the Nationals earlier in the week once it was determined that Strasburg would miss his start. Fedde was officially called up on Sunday morning just hours before his debut.

Fedde ran out on the field to a big round of applause from the crowd in attendance for the game, and he kept the fans on their feet as he threw the first two pitches of his MLB career for strikes.

However, Fedde got himself into a jam right out of the gate. Fedde allowed the first three Colorado Rockies batters to reach base, loading the bases with no outs. Fedde kept his composure given the situation, and forced a double play ball which, while it allowed a run to score, got Fedde into a much more manageable situation. Fedde would allow one more run to be scored in the inning before he got the final out.

In the second inning, Fedde looked much more cool and collected, and this is where he showed off his potential at the big league level. Fedde threw a 1-2-3 inning in the second, striking out the side in the process. Fedde’s slider at times looked like a completely unhittable pitch, and that was the case in the second inning.

The top of the Rockies lineup came back up in the third inning, and Fedde yet again allowed the first three batters in the Rockies order to reach, loading the bases with no outs. But yet again, Fedde kept his composure, and yet again, Fedde forced a double play ball. Fedde allowed a couple more runs in the fourth inning, his final inning, and left the game in line for the loss as the Nationals trailed 7-4.

The Nationals ended up losing the game 10-6, and Fedde did end up taking the loss. Fedde’s MLB record sits at 0-1 with an 11.25 ERA. Fedde allowed seven runs (only five earned) over four innings with 10 hits. Fedde walked two while striking out three.

But the numbers don’t tell the whole story.

Fedde was consistently around the strike zone, he was not giving many batters free passes, but instead making the hitters work to get on base. In addition, Fedde at times showed really good stuff that, as he continues to develop as a pitcher, he will be able to use more consistently and effectively. Finally, Fedde kept his composure despite the situations he put himself in. The two double play balls that he forced with the bases loaded and no outs are the proof of this.

Fedde will likely remain on the roster until Strasburg is ready to come back. The Nationals will probably want to give Fedde another opportunity to pitch at the big league level if Strasburg is to miss another start.

Despite the loss, there are a lot of positive takeaways from Fedde’s debut that the young pitcher can take to build on going forward in his professional career.

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