Fedde could return Tuesday, leaving Nats with rotation decision

SAN DIEGO – Erick Fedde could return from the injured list and rejoin the Nationals’ rotation as soon as Tuesday after an encouraging rehab start Wednesday for Triple-A Rochester.

Fedde, who has been on the 15-day IL since July 27 with right shoulder inflammation, tossed four scoreless innings in Worcester, Mass., scattering three hits and a walk while striking out four. His pitch count was only 63, and he would’ve stayed in the game if not for a rain delay that disrupted the proceedings.

“Can’t escape it,” he said of the rain. “But it went really well. Was able to get through the start with no issues. And if anything, I felt like I was getting stronger throughout the outing. So I’m happy with it.”

Fedde was able to throw another inning’s worth of pitches in the bullpen after his start officially ended, building up his workload. And that appears to be enough to warrant his activation in the coming days.

Manager Davey Martinez said barring any setbacks the Nationals will consider activating Fedde in time for him to start Tuesday night against the Mariners in Seattle.

“We’ll see how he feels throwing his next bullpen,” Martinez said. “But if everything goes well, I could see him possibly starting for us again here after the day off (following this weekend’s series against the Padres). I’m going to sit down with (pitching coach Jim Hickey) and redo our pitching, and then we’ll go from there.”

At the moment, Cory Abbott would be scheduled to start Tuesday. The recently added waiver pickup, though, pitched well Wednesday against the Cubs, allowing two runs and three hits over six innings.

The Nationals could consider dropping Aníbal Sánchez depending on how tonight’s start goes. They also could consider expanding to a six-man rotation for at least a short period of time, though, a move that would give them the luxury of spreading out Josiah Gray’s upcoming starts as the organization closely monitors the 24-year-old’s innings count.

“We’re going to look at all our options,” Martinez said. “Whether we go to a six-man rotation, possibly. We’ve got all these days off coming up in September, so we could actually push him back some. But we definitely want to make sure we keep an eye on his innings. I don’t want him to exceed … I don’t want to put a number on it, but we’re getting close to where I think he could use a break. He says he feels great, but we’re building here for the future, and he’s a big part of our future.”

Fedde was 5-7 with a 4.95 ERA in 19 starts before landing on the IL, but he admittedly wasn’t 100 percent healthy leading up to the diagnosis of the shoulder inflammation. He owned a 3.55 ERA in late May, then over his next starts allowed 33 runs in 47 innings and saw his season numbers balloon.

He feels this time off has done him good and cited Wednesday’s rehab start as evidence of that.

“We’re all dealing with stuff throughout the year, and it just got to the point where I couldn’t deal with it anymore,” he said. “It feels nice to feel close to back to 100 (percent) again.”

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