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Erick Fedde impresses in return to Nationals’ rotation: Does he remain a starter?

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Erick Fedde is likely to get more starts in the Nationals’ rotation with both Aníbal Sánchez and Jeremy Hellickson on the Injured List. He impressed in his first big league start of 2019 last night...

Washington Nationals v New York Mets Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

Before an injury to Aníbal Sánchez (left hamstring strain) forced Washington’s Nationals to make a decision, GM Mike Rizzo told 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies last week that if there was a need in the rotation, Erick Fedde, who recently transitioned to relief work, was the most likely candidate to get an opportunity.

“Fedde is not far away from being stretched out. He’s probably right now capable of going 85-90 pitches,” Rizzo said. “So he’s fairly stretched out right now.”

“He’s thrown multiple innings already in the big leagues. He threw four innings not too long ago, and two innings last night, so it wouldn’t take too long.”

Less than a week later, with Sánchez on the Injured List, the Nationals made the decision to put Fedde back into the rotation in Sánchez’s spot for the second of four with the New York Mets in Citi Field.

In five appearances out of the bullpen this season, Fedde, (the Nats’ 2014 1st Round pick, who has a 6.44 ERA, a 5.29 FIP, 4.11 BB/9, and 8.36 K/9 in 65 23 IP as a starter), had a 3.38 ERA, 4.13 FIP, 3.38 BB/9, and 5.59 K/9 in 10 23 IP before last night.

In his first start of the 2019 campaign in the majors, Fedde put up four scoreless to start, on 49 pitches, 26 of them sinkers, inducing six ground ball outs and two double plays along the way.

A leadoff walk and one-out hit-by-pitch in the fifth set the Mets up with an RBI opportunity that they cashed in with a two-out grounder to second that Brian Dozier dove for but had ricochet off his glove for an RBI single that tied it up at 1-1.

In spite of Rizzo’s previous comments about how deep Fedde could go at this point, Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez went to the pen after five innings and 61 pitches.

Erick Fedde’s Line: 5.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 61 P, 36 S, 7/2 GO/FO.

“Honestly, I was really hoping for five,” Fedde told reporters, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman, when asked about his expectations going in to what ended up a 6-5 walk-off loss for the Nationals.

“Fedde was — man that was his limit. We talked to him when he came out and he said he was tired. So we figured around 70-80 pitches would be his max,” Martinez explained.

“He looked really good,” the manager added.

“He threw ground balls, ground balls, but if he keeps pitching like that, we’re going to be in good shape. We’ve got to build him back up, obviously, but he did really well.”

With both Sánchez and now Jeremy Hellickson (right shoulder strain) on the Injured List, it is likely that Fedde gets another opportunity.

Will he be able to build his arm back up and build on a solid start in his first turn in the Nats’ rotation this season?