The Miami Marlins are doing their best to avoid being baseball’s ultimate cellar-dweller. After winning 15 of their first 59 games this season, they’ve now won 15 of 22 since June 8.
And one of baseball’s brightest young pitchers is part of the reason why.
Jose Fernandez - 2013 Season
Jose Fernandez was dominant on Monday, allowing two hits and a walk in eight scoreless innings in a win over the Padres.
Fernandez became the third pitcher age 20 or younger to strike out at least 10 in a game in which he allowed no more than two hits and one walk.
How Fernandez is winning
Fernandez averaged 95 mph with his fastball on Monday, his third-fastest average velocity with that pitch this season.
He threw the pitch 75 times in his 100 pitches, the most often he’s thrown it this season.
He then used his breaking ball as his putaway pitch. Padres hitters were 0-for-8 with seven strikeouts in at-bats ending with Fernandez’s curveball or slider.
It hasn’t taken long for Fernandez to establish those pitches as something special as well.
In April and May, Fernandez threw 247 breaking balls, allowing 12 hits and six walks, and netting 23 strikeouts.
But since June 1, he’s thrown 193 of them and allowed only three hits and five walks and netting 31 strikeouts.
Fernandez also had 10 strikeouts (his career high) against the Cardinals on June 14.
The start against the Nationals presents an opportunity for an interesting matchup with another 20-year-old, Bryce Harper, who returned to the majors with a home run in his first at-bat after missing 31 games.
That should be a fascinating confrontation given Harper’s history against hard throwers.
Harper is 7-for-47 with 15 strikeouts in his career in at-bats that end with pitches thrown 95 mph or faster (albeit with eight walks).
He does not have a hit in eight at-bats against such pitches in 2013.
Looking a little beyond that, Fernandez and Harper could be teammates on the National League All-Star team at Citi Field.
Fernandez could be the fifth pitcher under the age of 21 to pitch in an All-Star Game. Elias notes he’d be the first since Mets flamethrower Dwight Gooden in 1984.