Erick Fedde was beginning to find sustained success as a reliever at Double-A Harrisburg. The Washington Nationals need bullpen help. On Tuesday, the team took a step toward addressing the problem internally.
The Nationals promoted Fedde, MLB.com's No. 51 overall prospect, to Triple-A Syracuse, Chiefs broadcaster Eric Gallanty tweeted Tuesday afternoon. It'll be the 24-year-old right-hander's first time at the Minors' highest level after pitching 85 2/3 innings in Double-A over the past two seasons.
Featuring a plus fastball that can play up in shorter stints and an impressive slider, Fedde was moved from the Harrisburg rotation to the bullpen in mid-May in hopes that it would speed up his route to the Majors.
Fedde, the No. 2 prospect in the Nationals system and their top arm, allowed one run in each of his first three relief outings but has settled down nicely since May 24. Over his last seven appearances, he's allowed only one earned run while striking out 12 and issuing one walk over 9 2/3 innings. In total, he's struck out 19 of the 52 batters he's faced (36.5 percent) since making the move -- up from a 19.9 percent strikeout rate as a starter this year.
A first-round pick in 2014, Fedde has worked as many as two innings when coming out of the bullpen and as little as two-thirds of a frame as the Nationals try to get the most out of the switch. It's still possible he could have a future in the rotation, but the Nats have been up-front that this role change was done to help the big club as quickly as possible.
Washington has lost four straight games, though it still leads the NL East by 8 1/2 games with a 38-25 record. The Nationals used four relievers Sunday in an 11-10 loss to the Braves as Matt Albers blew a save opportunity in the ninth, giving up a go-ahead three-run homer to Tyler Flowers. Rookie reliever Koda Glover also blew a save Saturday in a 6-3, 11-inning loss to the Rangers.
Collectively, Nationals relievers rank 28th in the Majors with a 5.11 ERA. As a group, they've been below replacement-level with a -0.5 WAR, as measured by FanGraphs. Only Twins relievers (-0.7) have a lower collective WAR.
Video: Harrisburg's Fedde records fifth punchout