Top Washington Nationals pitching prospect Erick Fedde is having a very good season in Double-A for the Harrisburg Senators. So when the announcement that he was moving to the bullpen came out, along with it was the idea that he may see MLB action this year.

Fedde will reportedly remain in the bullpen for the rest of 2017. Unclear is where he will make these appearances. He could always join the Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs before the year is through. An even more optimistic prediction would suggest he has a shot at the big leagues.

Washington needs someone to save their bullpen. In an odd turn of events, their best relievers this season have been rookie Koda Glover and journeymen Matt Albers and Jacob Turner. Fedde would fit into the former category if he does indeed get a chance with the big league squad.

There could be more reasons for this switch than only an approaching MLB promotion. Perhaps the Nationals simply want to limit his innings in 2017 to avoid injury. This would also help Fedde from burning out too quickly if they do intend to call him up late in the year.

Fedde’s time as a starter is nowhere near over. The Nationals just seem to need him for a different role. Considering their starting pitchers, this could even mean a job on Opening Day 2018 as a relief pitcher.

If the Nationals pick up Gio Gonzalez‘s option and find a suitable fifth starter, Fedde’s first full year could come as a reliever. This is certainly not the ideal path for a highly-rated prospect. However, it’s the way many of the game’s best began their big league careers, including aces like Chris Sale and David Price.

Washington’s intentions with Fedde this year remain unclear. The biggest downside would be that they accelerate his career path and damage his confidence. He doesn’t quite appear ready for big league starters, but could surely help them in a lesser role from the bullpen.

Tim Boyle is a Staff Writer for Outside Pitch MLB covering the Washington Nationals. Follow Tim on Twitter.