Erick Fedde was underwhelming as a starter (6.44 ERA, 5.29 FIP, .311/.383/.529 in 14 starts and 65 2⁄3 IP in his career), and there was a need in the big league bullpen this season, so it was an easy decision, apparently, to move the right-hander into a relief role in Washington, but now that he’s doing so well in the bullpen (0.00 ERA, 3.36 FIP, .120/.241/.160 over four games and 8 IP), is there any consideration being given to moving him back into a rotation spot to take advantage of how well he’s doing?
“For right now I like what he’s doing,” Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez told reporters after Fedde tossed two scoreless and hitless against the New York Mets last night.
“And the fact that all of a sudden, after the games he’s telling me that he feels good. He’s not laboring, he’s — and I told him, I said, ‘You know, we’ll see how you feel tomorrow,’ but he had made comments about being ready to pitch back-to-back days, but we’ll see. We’ll see about that.”
Fedde’s stuff isn’t playing up as much as one might expect it to with the move into a relief role, which often allows a pitcher to air it out. The velocity on his sinker and his slider, the two pitches he’s thrown most often as a reliever is slightly down, actually according to the readings BaseballSavant.com is getting.
Though Martinez has said previously that the Nationals view Fedde (and Joe Ross, who has made a similar transition) as a starter long-term, he has looked more comfortable on the hill so far, and he said he is definitely gaining some confidence coming out of the bullpen.
“Definitely,” Fedde said after his appearance against the Mets. “I think I have a newfound confidence right now and just trying to ride it out.”
“He’s throwing well,” Martinez added. “This is something new for him, but he’s accepted his role and he’s doing really well.”
“I feel great,” the 2014 1st Round pick said. “Davey and them have done a great job with giving me lots of time to rest, and I feel really comfortable right now and I think I’m in a good spot.”
In a small sample size early in the transition, opposing hitters have a .133 AVG on his sinker, down from .283 last season, though their average against his slider is up a bit (to .250 from .182).
What does he think is working for him in relief?
“I think it’s more just the trust in my stuff,” Fedde explained last night.
“Thinking that I’m going out there saying that I think I’m better than the guy I’m facing, and it’s been with me in the zone, and pitching in better counts, and I think that’s what really has resulted in good outings.”
Overall, the 26-year-old right-hander said, he hasn’t really changed much up in terms of his approach when he’s on the mound.
“I try to make it not too different,” he said. “But I guess that with the opportunity of knowing maybe I just only face them once you can empty the tank and give them my best stuff and just hopefully get them out that one time and get up to the next guy.”
The next step in the progression, which the Nationals have tried to handle carefully thus far, as Fedde said, will be going in back-to-back games or two of three in a series.
Does he feel like he’s ready for that step?
“I’m for sure, I guess, curious, but I think it’s something I can handle and I look forward to the new challenges that come from being in the bullpen.”