JoFz on pace to set team rookie K mark

MIAMI — At the rate Jose Fernandez is going, he should easily shatter the Marlins’ rookie strikeout record.

Barring any unforeseen setbacks, the 21-year-old will do so while not pitching at all in September.

Fernandez is currently third all-time on the Marlins’ rookie strikeout list with 138. The club leader is Scott Olsen, who had 166 in 2006. Dontrelle Willis is second at 142, so Fernandez should surpass that total next Wednesday at Pittsburgh.

Needing 28 strikeouts to catch Olsen over probably five more starts shouldn’t be an issue for Fernandez.

The Marlins have set a firm deadline to shut Fernandez down at around 170 innings. If he throws every fifth game, and he averages seven innings per start, the rookie’s last start could be Aug. 30 at Atlanta.

But that is assuming he isn’t pushed back because of off days or any other reason.

Fernandez turned in one of the greatest pitching performances ever by a Marlins’ rookie on Friday night. The hard-throwing right-hander struck out 14, a franchise rookie record.

Another Marlins’ milestone Fernandez reached is the most strikeouts in back-to-back starts. His 27 eclipsed Ricky Nolasco’s 23 in 2009.

Armed with a 97-mph fastball, coupled with breaking pitches he can throw for strikes in any count, should make Fernandez a candidate to post huge strikeout totals in his career.

“For sure,” Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. “He’s got his secondary pitches. His command is solid. He’s able to move the ball in and out. And he’s got the ability to throw his breaking ball at a couple of different speeds. He can flip it in there for strikes, and when he needs a strikeout, he can throw it a little bit harder and make it spin a little bit tighter. He’s going to be a strikeout pitcher, just for sure.

“He puts pressure on you when you’re hitting. He gets ahead of you. With a couple of at-bats with those guys, he gets to 2-0 and then he’s able to throw his breaking balls for strikes. Most guys aren’t looking for a 2-0 breaking ball in that count. You’re looking dead-red for a fastball. Now, you’re back to 2-2. It seems like he’s able to lock it in and get it to that next level, whenever he wants.”

Joe Frisaro

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