ATLANTA — At last, there is clarity on the shut down date for Jose Fernandez.
The energized Marlins’ rookie will make two more starts, and they won’t combine for more than 12 total innings. So, barring a poor outing, look for the 21-year-old to go six innings in each of those games.
Manager Mike Redmond said on Saturday afternoon that Fernandez is looking at a firm innings maximum of 170 innings. Actually, it will be 170 2/3 innings, because he right now is at 158 2/3 innings.
Redmond also added that Fernandez will not pitch on the road, against the Cubs on Wednesday at Wrigley Field. Instead, he is being pushed back a couple of days to Friday, Sept. 6 at Marlins Park. He will face the Nationals that day.
And Fernandez’s projected last start will be Sept. 11 at home against the Braves.
“That was the range as an organization that we felt comfortable leaving him around, 150-170, depending on how many starts he did,” Redmond said. “It was kind of the unknown at the beginning of the season, how he would do, and how he would perform. We were looking at ways to protect him, based on how many innings he had gone before. That’s the number we came up with.”
Fernandez comes off a tough 2-1 loss to the Braves on Friday night, his first setback since July 7.
A strong National League Rookie of the Year candidate, Fernandez is 10-6 with a 2.33 ERA in 26 starts. He set the Marlins rookie record for strikeouts in a season, which is now 173.
– Joe Frisaro
ATLANTA — Unless the Marlins plate seven or more runs on Saturday night, they will close out August with their lowest scoring output ever in the month in a non-strike season.
Miami has just 82 runs this month, and a string of nine straight games of scoring three or less.
The 2011 Marlins had 89 runs in August, the next lowest.
So barring a big night at the plate against the Braves, this will be the fewest runs the organization has ever witnessed over a full month of August.
The lone exception is 1994, in a season shortened by a work stoppage. That year, the Marlins had 51 runs in 11 games in August.
Showing how much of a struggle it has been at the plate for the Marlins this month is the fact the 1994 team had 13 homers in August, compared to 12 for this year’s team.
The high for runs in August is 149, turned in twice. The 1997 and 2009 squads each reached that total. The ’97 team, of course, went on to win the World Series. In ’09, the Marlins finished second in the NL East.
Miami hasn’t had a winning season since ’09.
The 1998 team, which finished with the most losses ever in club history, scored 121 runs in August.
Marlins runs in August
1994 51 (11 games)
– Joe Frisaro
ATLANTA — Not much has stood in Jose Fernandez’s way this season, so being two strikeouts away from setting a Marlins’ record shouldn’t be too startling.
When Fernandez takes the mound at Turner Field on Friday night, the 21-year-old will have winning foremost on his mind. The Marlins last won in the rookie’s last start, last Saturday at home against Colorado.
Since then, the team has dropped four straight, including three in a row at Washington.
From a personal standpoint, Fernandez is two strikeouts shy of setting a Marlins’ record for a rookie. He enters tonight against the Braves with 165.
In 2006, lefty Scott Olsen established set the team standard with 166. The most telling difference is Olsen reached his total in 180 2/3 innings, compared to 150 2/3 innings for Fernandez.
Because of his age and inexperience, Fernandez will be shut down after two more starts, at roughly 170 innings.
While Fernandez is 10-5 on a team with 49 total wins, the right-hander won’t get a chance to match the rookie record for victories. That was set by Dontrelle Willis, who was 14-6 during his NL Rookie of the Year season in 2003.
MARLINS Rookie strikeout leaders
1) Scott Olsen 166 (2006)
2) Jose Fernandez 165 (2013)
3) Dontrelle Willis 142 (2003)
4) Jesus Sanchez 137 (1998)
5) Josh Johnson 133 (2006)
6) Chuck Smith 118 (2000)
7) Josh Beckett 113 (2002)
8) Tony Saunders 102 (1997)
9) Ricky Nolasco 99 (2006)
10) Michael Tejera 95 (2002)
– Joe Frisaro
MIAMI — Facing the best certainly brings out the best in Jose Fernandez.
The Marlins’ ace did it again on Monday night, silencing the Dodgers in Miami’s 6-2 win at Marlins Park.
After striking out eight while allowing one earned run in six innings, Fernandez enhanced his National League Rookie of the Year chances. But if you dig deeper into the numbers, a case can be made the 21-year-old has been the best overall pitcher in the big leagues since late May.
Overall, Fernandez is 9-5 with a 2.41 ERA with 157 strikeouts in 145 2/3 innings. In his 24 starts, the Marlins are 15-9, remarkable when you consider the team has 48 total wins.
The turning point for Fernandez came after his May 27 loss to the Rays at Tropicana Field. Born in Cuba, Fernandez attended high school in Tampa. Admittedly, he was amped up pitching in his home town.
The Rays tagged Fernandez for seven runs (four earned) in 3 1/3 innings.
Since May 28, statistically, Fernandez has put up the best numbers of any starting pitcher in either league.
STARTERS SINCE MAY 28
1) Jose Fernandez (Mia) 7-2, 1.64 ERA, 105 Ks, 93 1/3 IP
2) Clayton Kershaw (LAD) 7-4, 1.88 ERA, 105 Ks, 110 IP
3) David Price (TB) 6-1, 1.89 ERA, 57 Ks, 76 1/3 IP
4) Hiroki Kuroda (NYY) 5-5, 2.26 ERA, 77 Ks, 99 2/3 IP
5) Dillon Gee (NYM) 7-2, 2.27 ERA, 77 Ks, 103 IP
6) Yu Darvish (TEX) 5-3, 2.39 ERA, 109 ks, 86 2/3 IP
7) Bartolo Colon (OAK) 9-3, 2.42 ERA, 44 Ks, 93 IP
8) Max Scherzer (DET) 11-1, 2.42 ERA, 104 Ks, 104 IP
9) Matt Harvey (NYM) 4-4, 2.48 ERA, 113 Ks, 101 2/3 IP
10) Julio Teheran (ATL) 7-5, 2.53 ERA, 97 Ks, 92 2/3 IP
– Joe Frisaro
MIAMI — The Marlins on Monday placed Placido Polanco on the seven-day concussion disabled list three days after he was drilled on the helmet by a pitch.
Replacing Polanco is Gil Velazquez, who had his contract selected from Triple-A New Orleans. To free up 40-man roster space, Marcell Ozuna was transferred to the 60-day disabled list.
In the eighth inning on Friday night against the Giants, Polanco was plunked on the left side of his helmet by Santiago Casillas’ 94 mph fastball.
On Saturday, Polanco was upbeat and said he was feeling substantially better. He didn’t have a headache, but he admitted to feeling a little dizzy.
Polanco, 38, has split playing time at third base with Ed Lucas.
In 91 games, Polanco is batting .253.
Velazquez, 32, will be making his second stint with the Marlins. A year ago, the utility infielder appeared in 19 games with Miami in the second half.
Velazquez is batting .275 in 67 with New Orleans.
Ozuna is out for the season after undergoing surgery to his left thumb.
– Joe Frisaro
On Monday night, the 21-year-old sensation gets his biggest test to date, facing the surging Dodgers at 7:10 p.m. ET at Marlins Park.
Fernandez will be making his 24th start, and he enters with 139 2/3 innings.
With Fernandez, you have to keep a close watch on the innings total, because once it gets to around 170, the Marlins plan to shut him down for the remainder of the season.
Basically, Miami management is projecting its shut-down date based on an average of seven innings per start. If he indeed can go seven innings per outing, his final start would be on Sept. 4 against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. That’s if the Marlins go with him every fifth game from this point forward.
At seven innings per start, Fernandez would be at 167 2/3 innings on Sept. 4.
If the club decided to give him an extra day, he could finish up on Sept. 6 at Marlins Park against the Nationals.
Fernandez’s story is well documented.
The hard-throwing right-hander made the leap from Class A to the big leagues at the start of the season. He logged 134 innings in the regular season in the Minor Leagues a year ago.
In 2012, Fernandez made his last start during the championship round of the Florida State League playoffs on Sept. 9. He worked five innings that day in Class A Jupiter’s victory over Lakeland.
– Joe Frisaro
MIAMI — With a fastball that’s reached 100 mph, Arquimedes Caminero is a prospect who may profile someday to be a closer. Time will tell.
But for the 26-year-old, the time is now for his first big league callup.
The Marlins on Friday recalled Caminero from Double-A Jacksonville two days after reliever Steven Ames was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans.
A Dominican Republic native, Caminero is one of the hardest-throwers in Miami’s system. At 6-foot-4, 255-pounds, he is an intimidating presence.
At Jacksonville, Caminero was 5-2 with a 3.61 ERA in 42 appearances. He has 68 strikeouts in 52 1/3 innings.
While he throws hard, Caminero hasn’t always consistently thrown strikes. For the Suns, he has walked 21.
The Marlins have been looking for candidates to work in the sixth and seventh innings. Ryan Webb, A.J. Ramos and lefty Dan Jennings are candidates. Caminero now likely will join them as he breaks into the big leagues.
If he progresses as expected, Caminero could work his way to an eighth inning setup role, which currently is being anchored by Chad Qualls and lefty Mike Dunn.
Steve Cishek has established himself as the closer.
In terms of pure stuff, Caminero may eventually emerge as a closer.
The organization’s philosophy on closers is they earn the job on performance, not projection.
Ames, 25, was acquired by Miami from the Dodgers as part of the Ricky Nolasco trade in early July.
The right-hander made four appearances for Miami, and he was 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA (two earned runs in four innings). He struck out four and walked two.
At the Minor League level this year, Ames is a combined 2-2 with a 3.05 ERA in 41 1/3 innings with 34 strikeouts.
Ames is a candidate to rejoin the Marlins as a September call-up.
– Joe Frisaro
The Marlins already feature an All-Star pitcher and a slick-fielding shortstop who were born in Cuba. Perhaps the organization is prime to turn to a Cuban slugger on the international free agent market.
Jose Dariel Abreu, a power-hitting first baseman, is reportedly in Haiti after defecting from the Cuban national team.
Another report suggests the Marlins will make a big push for the 26-year-old once he is declared a free agent, a process that could take months.
ESPN’s Jim Bowden wrote the Marlins are “expected to go all out on Abreu.”
The slugger’s asking price could be in the six-year, $54 million range.
From what I’ve gathered, it is way too early to predict if the Marlins will indeed make a push for Abreu. The team is planning on sticking with Logan Morrison at first base, and Abreu may not be able to handle a corner outfield spot.
Abreu may be more suited to strictly play first base, or he could be an option for an American League club as a first baseman/designated hitter candidate.
More answers on Abreu will come in the ensuing months. Right now, it is way too early to speculate.
A couple of years ago, the Marlins offered Yeonis Cespedes six-years, $36 million before the power-hitting outfielder signed with the A’s for four-years, $36 million.
Abreu projects to be the latest prized-talent to come out of Cuba. A year ago, the Dodgers signed Yasiel Puig for seven-years, $42 million, and the outfielder is a National League Rookie of the Year frontrunner.
The Marlins have two Cuban-born standouts — Jose Fernandez and Adeiny Hechavarria.
Fernandez, the 21-year-old pitching sensation, represented Miami in the All-Star Game. The right-hander defected CUba at age 15 five years ago, and he moved rapidly to the big leagues.
Like Puig, Fernandez is a serious candidate for top NL rookie honors.
Hechavarria, 24, is a terrific defensive player and is solidifying shortstop in Miami.
The Marlins are clearly looking for offensive help.
The organization is rich in pitching, which gives encouragement for a brighter future. But they’ve really struggled at the plate, sitting last in the Majors in runs scored, home runs and batting average.
Mark Reynolds, placed on release waivers by the Indians, is a player the Marlins are having internal discussions about.
At the Winter Meetings last December, Reynolds was a free agent the Marlins discussed before he opted for Cleveland. But the general feeling is Reynolds may be best suited for the American League.
In a rebuilding season, the Marlins are looking for their young players to develop. They’ve had stretches of promise, but more times than not, they’ve endured their share of disappointments. Currently, they’ve lost eight of nine heading into tonight’s game at Kansas City.
In the offseason, the Marlins are not expected to be active on the free agent market, at least for high-priced, established players. So pursuing an international talent like Abreu makes sense.
Another alternative to bringing in offensive help could be trading a pitching prospect or two for a power hitter.
Miami is building around a solid, young pitching staff. Four untouchables in that rotation are Fernandez, Nathan Eovaldi, Henderson Alvarez and Jacob Turner. Aside from lefty, Andrew Heaney, now at Double-A Jacksonville, the club may consider dealing any other of their good, young arms for offensive help.
A hitting catcher appears high on Miami’s wish list.
Atlanta’s Evan Gattis would fit the mold, but don’t expect that to happen. Chances are the Braves will not move Gattis because Brian McCann is heading towards a big contract in free agency, leaving Gattis as their likely starter in 2014.
– Joe Frisaro
ATLANTA — Rob Brantly, the Marlins’ Opening Day starting catcher, has been optioned to Triple-A New Orleans.
The club made the decision after Thursday’s 5-4 loss in 10 innings at Pittsburgh, and the official announcement came on Friday.
In a corresponding move, Koyie Hill had his contract selected from Triple-A New Orleans. Hill, 34, has previous big league experience, appearing in 313 games over nine seasons. In 2012, he appeared in 11 games with the Cubs.
Brantly, 23, has had his share of struggles, at the plate and in the field. He is batting .225 with one home run and 18 RBIs in 59 games.
For a few months, Brantly’s playing time was reduced as Jeff Mathis handled a majority of the catching duties.
The veteran Mathis has regularly been behind the plate for rookie phenom, Jose Fernandez.
Brantly’s most recent start was on Wednesday at Pittsburgh. He was hitless in three at-bats. Prior to then, he hadn’t started since Aug. 3 in a loss to the Indians.
Miami acquired Brantly, along with Jacob Turner and Brian Flynn, from the Tigers on July 23, 2012 for Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante.
A left-handed hitter, Brantly is a career .280 hitter in the Minor Leagues.
By being sent to Triple-A, Brantly will get a chance to play every day and refine his skills in the field and at the plate.
The Marlins promoted Brantly late last season, and in 31 games and 100 at-bats, he batted .290.
Hill provides a veteran backup presence to Mathis. With New Orleans, he batted .237 with one homer and 14 RBIs.
– Joe Frisaro
ATLANTA — The Marlins are in desperate need of offense, but their options are limited.
After being swept at Pittsburgh, the Marlins have dropped five straight as they prepare to face the Braves at Turner Field on Friday night.
In their losing streak, the Marlins have scored more than three runs once, and that was in Thursday’s 5-4 setback in 10 innings at PNC Park.
A lack of run support has been an issue all season, as the team is allowing a number of young players develop.
Immediate help would likely come from the Minor League system.
One internal candidate who could receive considerations is third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff, the 32-year-old who has previous big league experience.
Kouzmanoff is batting .309 at Triple-A New Orleans. In 19 games since the Triple-A All-Star Break, he is batting .324 with three homers and 19 RBIs.
But Kouzmanoff isn’t on the 40-man roster, so the club would have to make room for him, if they felt he could be an option.
An interesting prospect is left fielder Kyle Jensen, who is on the 40-man roster. Jensen opened the season at Double-A Jacksonville, and he is now at New Orleans. Combined, he has 23 homers and 65 RBIs. But Jensen is kind of an all-or-nothing prospect. He is batting .231.
If Jensen were to play left field for Miami, that would mean Christian Yelich would move to center field. Then the club would have to ask if they want to send Jake Marisnick back to Double-A. The team may not be ready to option Marisnick, who has appeared in just 15 MLB games.
Bryan Petersen, who also isn’t on the 40-man roster, is batting .287 with eight homers and 46 RBIs at New Orleans. Petersen has played for Miami in the past.
At Double-A, Derek Dietrich is an option to return. The 24-year-old was optioned a few weeks ago, and he is 7-for-45 since the All-Star Break with two homers. Dietrich jammed a finger on Wednesday during a collision at home plate. An X-ray came back negative, and he should return to the lineup, perhaps as early as Friday.
Zack Cox, a left-handed hitting third baseman, is batting .291 at Jacksonville. Cox also isn’t on the 40-man roster. He is more of a platoon option, as he is batting .337 vs. RHP compared to .179 vs. LHP.
– Joe Frisaro