Sometimes we find gems in our lives that seem too good to be true. A certain someone, or something, that makes us feel alive. Jose Fernandez was that special someone for the Miami Marlins, for a spectacular 14 months. 98 MPH fastballs, “The Defector” and best of all, his gleaming smile, infatuated Marlins fans during his breakout 2013 season.
The rest is history; Fernandez’s 2014 was cut short on May 5 by Tommy John surgery, shattering the hearts of baseball fans from Miami to Cuba.
Now, Fernandez must balance the competitive fire that makes him so special, with a patient approach that will be essential in preserving his longevity. Coming back from Tommy John surgery is historically difficult, with most pitchers taking longer than a full season to return to their previous form. Fernandez will try to write his own history, and carry a playoff-hopeful Marlins squad into the postseason.
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Fernandez threw off of a mound for the first time since his injury this week, a welcome sign for Marlins fans. This step marks the first of many that Jose will progress through before making his first start, hopefully in June or early July.
The Marlins made two moves to beef up the rotation this offseason, acquiring Mat Latos and Dan Haren. Neither of them are Jose Fernandez; Haren especially so. They will, however, help to hold down the fort until “Kid K” returns. Haren will likely be bumped from the starting rotation upon Fernandez’s return, and if everything goes to plan, his services won’t be called upon again.
If Jose manages to come back at even 75% of his old self, he would be a huge upgrade to this roster. Prior to his last start of the year against the Padres, (When he blew out his elbow) Fernandez sported a 1.74 ERA and 65 strikeouts in 46.2 innings. Those numbers across an entire season are on the level of Clayton Kershaw, and not far from Fernandez’s rookie season.
Those expectations for Jose should be tampered in anticipation of his return, but in all likelihood they won’t be. Marlins fans have been spoiled by his dominance, and will likely hold him to the standard he has set for himself: flash, energy, and lots of strikeouts. Jose will try his hardest to live up to those expectations, and that could be harmful. Could be. My gut says that this kid is truly unique, and that he’ll shake off the rust in his first few starts and catapult the Marlins into a Wild Card spot. Sounds like a perfect movie ending, right?
That’s the great part. Nobody knows what’s going to happen. And nobody will, until sometime in mid June-July (hopefully). A shining star at the age of 21 began carving out his own legacy, and the rest is waiting for him, god willing. For now, I miss the fireworks, and I’ll stick to my youtube highlights to hold me over until mid summer.
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