Few in the sport show as much fun, energy and enthusiasm as the Marlins’ 21-year-old right-hander.
Fernandez has become the face of the franchise as well as a serious frontrunner for National League Rookie of the Year.
On Wednesday night, the curtain will come down on Fernandez’s remarkable season. The Marlins are shutting down their young ace after he faces the first-place Braves at Marlins Park.
Because of his age, inexperience, Fernandez entered the season knowing he was facing an innings maximum of around 170. A year ago, he threw 134 innings at Class A, plus another 10 in the playoffs. So the plan was to increase him by roughly 30 innings in ’13.
Fernandez enters tonight at 165 2/3 innings, but he is free to go as far as he can. If it’s six, seven or eight will depend on how he performs.
Wednesday also is an opportunity for Fernandez to make his closing argument as to why he should be the NL Rookie of the Year.
Will not pitching through the end of the month hurt Fernandez’s chances?
To some, it may. But it really shouldn’t.
Fernandez opened the season with the Marlins, and he will be making his 28th start. Barring an unexpected short outing on Wednesday, he will finish with more than 170 innings, and his numbers are worthy of being in the Cy Young Award discussion, even though he likely wouldn’t be the favorite.
In 2003, the Marlins called up Dontrelle Willis from Double-A, and the D-Train made 27 starts and threw 160 2/3 innings. Willis ended up winning NL Rookie of the Year.
Fernandez is having a rookie season for the ages. Consider, since 1980, the 21-year-old’s 2.33 ERA is the lowest of any MLB rookie. He also ranks first in batting average against at .181.
And Fernandez’s 182 strikeouts are the ninth most in the majors since that span.
Some have suggested Fernandez’s rookie season brings back memories of Dwight Gooden in his 1984 rookie season. Gooden that year was 17-9 with a 2.60 ERA, and 276 strikeouts in 218 innings.
Bottom line is being shut down shouldn’t weigh against Fernandez any more than rookies being called up in late May or early June to delay their service-time clock.
While Fernandez’s season will be through with 18 games for the Marlins to go, Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig was called up on June 3. Puig has appeared in 86 games.
Puig not playing the first two months shouldn’t hurt his chances any more than Fernandez sitting out 18 games.
In 2012, Mike Trout and Bryce Harper were voted top rookies in their respective leagues. Both opened in the Minor Leagues and appeared in the big leagues for the first time on April 28.
Chris Coghlan in 2009 became the Marlins’ third Rookie of the Year. He started playing on May 8 of that season, and appeared in 128 games.
Willis was an All-Star and a major reason why the Marlins won the World Series in 2003. The D-Train made his MLB debut on May 9.
Fernandez certainly has performed long enough, and effective enough to not have the day he throws his final pitch work against him.
– Joe Frisaro
MIAMI — The greatest rookie season by a Marlins’ pitcher is one start away from being completed.
Jose Fernandez, the hard-throwing 21-year-old, is scheduled to take the mound on Wednesday night against the Braves at Marlins Park.
There will be no innings limited placed on the right-hander. If he is good to go six, seven or eight innings, he will be given a long leash. Pitch count, obviously, will be closely monitored, as will how he is holding up.
For the most part, Fernandez is under the directive to do what he can to win a ballgame.
Whenever Fernandez’s night is through, it will mark the completion of his stellar rookie season.
Before the season, Miami set an innings maximum of 170 innings. He now is at 165 2/3 innings, the club has given him some wiggle room to exceed his preseason number by a few innings.
What Fernandez has done is remarkable. He has become a serious frontrunner for National League Rookie of the Year.
Fernandez has already set the Miami rookie record for strikeouts (182), and his ERA of 2.23 is also a best among pitchers with at least 15 starts.
In franchise history, Dontrelle Willis (2003) is the lone Miami pitcher to be named NL Rookie of the Year.
Fernandez’s numbers stack up better than what the D-Train did a decade ago.
willis opened his rookie campaign at Double-A before he was called up in early May. Fernandez, meanwhile, was with Miami from the first day.
Willis was 14-6 with a 3.30 ERA in 27 starts and 160 2/3 innings. The lefty fanned 142, and batters hit .245 off him.
Fernandez is 11-6, 2.23 ERA in 27 starts. Opponents are limited to a .181 average off him.
– Joe Frisaro
MIAMI — Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton was replaced in the eighth inning on Saturday due to a sore right foot and ankle.
The 23-year-old experienced discomfort for most of the day, and in the second inning in Miami’s 9-2 loss to the Nationals, he started dealing with more pain.
With Miami trailing by five runs after seven innings, Stanton was replaced in the eighth inning. He had an X-ray taken on his foot and ankle, and it came back negative.
Stanton’s status is day-to-day, but it is likely he will be given Sunday’s series finale with the Nationals off.
Stanton initially rolled his right ankle while stepping on first base last Sunday at Atlanta in Miami’s 7-0 win over the Braves at Turner Field. He has played through some discomfort this past week.
“It was just one of those days,” Stanton said. “Today, it hurt, I don’t know why, more than almost the first day that it happened.”
There was not a specific play or moment that led to more intensified discomfort.
“A bunch of factors could have gone into it,” he said. “I’m just calling it a bad day, right now.”
Stanton is dealing with discomfort to both sides of his ankle, as well as his heel.
Justin Ruggiano moved from center field to right field to replace Stanton in the eighth inning, and rookie Jake Marisnick played center.
Stanton was hitless in three at-bats on Saturday, and he is batting .249 on the season with 19 homers and 46 RBIs.
– Joe Frisaro
MIAMI — If Jose Fernandez was able to put himself in position to make history, Marlins manager Mike Redmond was not going to deny him.
On Saturday, Redmond answered the unanswered question — would Fernandez have been allowed to go the distance to a complete a no-hitter?
The situation became moot, because the no-hit bid was foiled with one out in the sixth inning on pinch-hitter Zach Walters’ infield single.
Fernandez on Friday night flirted with no-hit history in Miami’s 7-0 win over the Nationals at Marlins Park.
Walters’ dribbler down the third base line was the lone hit Fernandez allowed in seven shutout innings. The hard-throwing rookie struck out nine before he was lifted after 94 pitches.
“I was fully ready to let him pitch that whole game, if he had the chance to go for it,” Redmond said on Saturday. “And that would have been it.”
Now with 165 2/3 innings pitched, Fernandez has one more scheduled start before he is shut down after facing the Braves on Sept. 11 in Miami.
Had Fernandez gone nine innings in quest for a no-hitter, the Marlins would have called it a season for the rookie. It never reached that point, but during the game, Redmond and pitching coach Chuck Hernandez were already thinking about how to deal with a potential no-hitter.
“Believe me, I was sitting there thinking it,” Redmond said. “Chuck and I, we weren’t even looking at each other. We knew.”
The Marlins have four no-hitters in their history, with the last being turned in by Anibal Sanchez against the D-Backs. Ironically, Fernandez was pursuing the no-hitter on the seventh anniversary of Sanchez’s no-hitter.
Fernandez is facing an innings limit of about 170.
Redmond said against the Braves, the plan for Fernandez will be the same as Friday. The rookie will be allowed to go as deep into the game as possible, depending on how he is doing. So while, Fernandez is 4 1/3 innings shy of 170, his performance will determine how far he goes in his final start.
– Joe Frisaro
MIAMI — Jose Fernandez’s prowess on the mound is well documented.
The 21-year-old is a strong National League Rookie of the Year candidate. He’s already set the Marlins record for strikeouts in a season by a rookie.
On Friday, Fernandez also moved up the charts with his hitting.
Fernandez had two singles, giving him nine hits on the season, which is the third most ever by a Marlins’ rookie pitcher.
Dontrelle Willis set the club mark with 14 hits in 58 at-bats (.241) in 2003. Scott Olsen was 11-for-58 (.190) in 2006.
Fernandez is now 9-for-46 (.196).
Most Hits by Marlins rookie pitcher
1) Dontrelle Willis 14 (2003)
2) Scott Olsen 11 (2006)
3) Jose Fernandez 9 (2013)
4) Jason Vargas 8 (2005)
– Joe Frisaro
MIAMI — Perhaps there will be some wiggle room in Jose Fernandez’s innings limit.
The Marlins’ rookie sensation is making his 27th start of the season on Friday night against the Nationals at Marlins Park.
Fernandez is at 158 2/3 innings, and the team a few days ago said the rookie is facing a firm 170 innings limit before he is shut down. Once that was announced, the question became: How would the remaining 12 innings be divided over two starts?
The natural assumption is, if he wasn’t laboring, he would go six innings on Friday and six on Sept. 11 in his last outing, which is scheduled to be at home against the Braves.
On Friday, manager Mike Redmond clarified where things stood with Fernandez in relation to how the innings would be dispersed. Before facing the Nationals, Redmond discussed the matter with the star rookie.
“We’re going to focus on tonight,” Redmond told the rookie right-hander. “I told Jose not to worry about all the talk about the innings, and how some people are saying it’s going to be six and six.
“I just told him, ‘Listen, this is how it’s going to go — tonight, you going to go out there and try to win a ballgame. If it’s seven innings, it’s seven innings. If it’s eight innings, it’s eight innings. Don’t worry about the other stuff. That’s how we’re going to do it. Just go to win a ballgame. We’ll worry about the innings after that for whatever is going to happen down the road.’ “
Even if Fernandez reaches eight innings on Friday, he is expected to make his final start on Sept. 11. Most likely, the rookie will be given the same advice that day, but we’ll have to see how it all shapes up after the hard-throwing right-hander does on Friday.
– Joe Frisaro
MIAMI — Friday night will mark game No. 41 Christian Yelich has played in the big leagues. It will be the 21-year-old’s first start in a position other than left field.
Yelich is getting the nod in center field, a position he is certainly familiar with in the Minor Leagues. He saw substantial time there in the past, including this season at Double-A Jacksonville.
But the Marlins are shuffling their lineup around in their series opener against the Nationals at Marlins Park.
Yelich shifting to center field opens up room for Chris Coghlan to play left field.
More than defense, the Marlins are looking to improve their offense. Coghlan and Yelich are each left-handed hitters.
Coghlan has seen substantial big league time in left field. But he has been working at third base, a position he played extensively in college at Ole Miss and in the Minor Leagues.
In two games at third, Coghlan has had six chances, and he’s committed one error.
Miami is coming off taking two of three against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Overall, however, it was a rough 3-6, three-city road trip.
Rookie of the Year candidate Jose Fernandez will be getting the start on Friday. It will be Fernandez’s second to last start before he is shut down.
1) Coghlan, LF
2) Solano, 2B
3) Yelich, CF
4) Stanton, RF
5) Morrison, 1B
6) Polanco, 3B
7) Hechavarria, SS
8) Mathis, C
9) Fernandez, P
– Joe Frisaro
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