Fedde to start Tuesday, Ross coming soon (Nats down 9-4)

The Nationals have several options to fill Gio Gonzalez’s open rotation slot over the season’s final month, and they may take a look at all of them over the course of September. First up, though, will be Erick Fedde.

Fedde-Red-Day-sidebar.jpgFedde, who has been out since July 4 with shoulder inflammation, will start Tuesday against the Cardinals, the first time the Nationals need a replacement for Gonzalez after the veteran lefty was traded to Milwaukee this weekend.fed

The right-hander, who is eligible to come off the 60-day disabled list Monday, made three rehab starts over the last couple of weeks, most recently Thursday for Triple-A Syracuse. He allowed one run in six innings in that start, throwing 83 pitches.

The Nationals are interested to see how Fedde finishes out the season, yet another one in which the 2014 first-round pick has been sidetracked by injury. The 25-year-old has made nine big league starts the last two seasons, going a combined 1-4 with a 7.06 ERA and 1.823 WHIP.

It remains to be seen how many starts Fedde gets this month, but the Nationals also intend to take a look at other pitchers who could figure into their 2019 plans, particularly Joe Ross.

Ross, in the final stages of rehab from last summer’s Tommy John surgery, appears to be on track to be activated this week and make his first major league appearance in more than 13 months. The right-hander made his sixth rehab start Saturday, allowing one run in 5 2/3 innings on 89 pitches, and won’t have anywhere else to pitch now with the minor league regular season ending Monday.

The Nationals will be careful with both right-handers down the stretch, but their performances could go a long way toward helping the front office map out an offseason plan to acquire (or not acquire) starting pitchers.

“The thing about it, especially with Fedde and Joe coming off the disabled list, is just making sure they’re healthy and they continue to progress and not go backwards,” manager Davey Martinez said. “I talked to Fedde a lot about his mechanics, cause he’s been hurt quite a bit. So we’re trying to clean up his mechanics so he doesn’t end up on the DL and he can pitch a whole year. Same thing with Joe: Just try to get him back, get him healthy. I’m looking forward to watching him pitch when he does come back.”

Update: This hasn’t exactly been a pitchers’ duel so far this afternoon. Neithe Jefry Rodriguez nor Junior Guerra has been able to hold the opposition in check through three innings. Rodriguez opened the afternoon with six consecutive balls and wound up allowing two runs in the top of the first. He walked the bases loaded with two outs in the third, and though he escaped, his pitch count already is 67. Guerra, meanwhile, served up a solo homer to Wilmer Difo (his third in 13 days since the Daniel Murphy trade) in the bottom of the second and then loaded the bases in the bottom of the third. Juan Soto responded by doing a “Juan Soto Thing” and sending an RBI single up the middle. Mark Reynolds followed with a two-run single to center, and just like that the Nationals have taken a 4-2 lead on the Brewers.

Update II: Well, the top of the fifth was as bit of a fiasco. No, make that a complete fiasco. Rodriguez began the inning with his pitch count at 82, with three left-handed Brewers batters leading off and then a bunch of right-handed batters after that. Tim Collins, a lefty, began warming in the bullpen, but after Rodriguez got a flyball and then gave up a double, Collins sat and right-hander Austen Williams took his place in the pen. Rodriguez got Mike Moustakas to fly out, so he was on the verge of getting out of the inning. At which point everything collapsed. Rodriguez couldn’t field a comebacker from Manny Pina. He then fell behind 2-0 to Keon Broxton before leaving a fastball over the plate and watching as Broxton blasted it onto the batter’s eye for a three-run homer. With Williams (who has never pitched in an MLB game) still warming, Rodriguez stayed in the game. He immediately gave up a first-pitch single to Orlando Arcia, then walked Brandon Woodruff - a reliever - on four pitches. At this point, Collins ran back to the mound in the bullpen to resume warming up, but Martinez already was on his way out of the dugout signaling for him. Collins got his standard warm-up pitches on the mound, but he never looked right. He walked pinch-hitter Hernán Pérez on four pitches, fell behind 2-0 to Christian Yelich and served up a grand slam, then walked Travis Shaw on five pitches. Williams began warming up again but wasn’t brought into the game. The end result of all that? The Brewers lead 9-4, and Martinez and his coaching staff have some explaining to do.

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