Wednesday, April 17, 2024

What To Look For In Erick Fedde’s Return To The Major Leagues

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Erick Fedde was the biggest offseason free agent signing for the White Sox, as he signed a two year, 15 million dollar deal. This was the largest contract given out by the White Sox this offseason by a wide margin, so it is clear that the front office has high expectations for Fedde this season.

Before going to Korea, Fedde was not a great MLB pitcher, as a quick glance at his stats will show you that he was not very successful in his first MLB stint. He owns a career 5.41 ERA with a very inflated 1.523 WHIP over six MLB seasons. The former top prospect got hit very hard the last two years in the MLB and was giving up a lot of contact. He did not strike out many batters, as he only had a 6.7 K/9 his last year, which is not great. He didn’t have many problems with the walks, but he still walked more guys than the average MLB pitcher. It’s safe to say that his first MLB stint did not go as planned. But, a season in Korea may have saved his MLB career.

In 30 starts for the NC Dinos, Fedde had a 2.00 ERA over 180 innings. He struck out 209 batters while walking just 35 batters. He had an elite .954 WHIP, which means he had less than one batter on base per inning. A stark contrast from his first stint in the MLB.  

Fedde absolutely dominated, as he looked like he finally unlocked the talent that many major league evaluators knew he had, as he was a consensus top-100 prospect in the 2016 and 2017 seasons. This is a big reason why the White Sox took a chance on him, as it’s not like he was some no-name player that went to Korea, he was an underperforming former top prospect who made some adjustments overseas and he is now ready for a jump back to the MLB. While, hitting in Korea is not as good as it is in the MLB, he still showed the necessary improvement and changes to get a chance in the MLB again after just one season.

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In fact, Fedde was significantly better than other players that went to Korea and have had success in the major leagues upon their returns, specifically Merrill Kelly, who is a very good starting pitcher for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Kelly never won the MVP or Cy Young award there, so Fedde already has a leg up.

Now, there’s no guarantee Fedde will be nearly as dominant here as he was in Korea, but he made some significant changes that made him a much better pitcher. Here’s what to look for once he takes the mound against the Detroit Tigers:

Over the course of the offseason, many analysts discussed this new “sweeper” pitch that was added to Fedde’s arsenal, a pitch that made him significantly more dangerous on the mound.

Lance Brozdowski broke down the changes he saw in Erick Fedde’s Spring Training vs. what we saw when he was last in the MLB.

Lance mentions how the new and improved sweeper he added is much harder and has significantly more break on any similar pitch he threw before. It is up about six miles an hour and breaks significantly better east-west. This should be a fantastic add to Fedde’s arsenal and should be a great putaway pitch.

Another very interesting development is his velocity, as Lance notes that his sinker is up 1.5 MPH from the last time we saw him. Anytime a player is throwing harder is a good sign, as velocity can help make up if a pitcher makes a mistake.

Here is an interview where Erick Fedde talks to Josh Frydman about his new pitches:

An important thing to note is he also brings a new changeup back to the MLB. But, in his write up, Lance noted that it didn’t seem too different to what he was throwing in 2022, so that is definitely something worth monitoring.

Fedde should be fun to follow this season, as he could be a fantastic pitcher this year. Look for increased velocity, a new sweeper, and potentially a different change up. He should be one of the best pitchers on the White Sox this year and if things translate from Korea, possibly one of the best in the American League.

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