Miami Marlins News: Jose Fernandez to Start Opening Day
According to multiple unconfirmed sources, Miami Marlins ace Jose Fernandez has seen his rehab from Tommy John surgery go so well that he has been cleared for live games and will start Opening Day on April 6th for the Marlins.
Previously, it had been announced that Henderson Alvarez would receive the ball for the first game of the 2015 campaign. With the most recent revelation, however, Alvarez will be pushed back to the 2 hole in the rotation, a welcome gift given the uncertainty of Jarred Cosart’s blister and fate with regards to MLB’s investigation of his alleged gambling.
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Requests for interviews were denied by Fernandez, team owner Jeffrey Loria, and team president David Samson. However, Fernandez teased an announcement on his Twitter account earlier today, posting:
“It’s going to be an even better season than I imagined!!!! Go Fish!!!!”
Losing Fernandez for the second half of the 2014 season did not impact the Marlins as much as pundits expected, as the team hung around in the wild card discussion well into the dog days of summer. Now, the team may benefit greatly by getting him back 2 to 3 months earlier than expected.
For rehab assignments to go this well is extremely rare. Recovery time for pitchers generally takes about one calendar year, though the recovery time is getting shorter and shorter. Position players generally take less time. If he starts on Opening Day, Fernandez will make his return slightly less than 10 months after his surgery.
Only one pitcher has ever returned from Tommy John surgery in 10 months, according to the database maintained by @MLBPlayerAnalys. That was Gabe Speier, an 18-year-old prospect for the Boston Red Sox. Though two position players have done it, the only pitcher to make his return in 9 months was Josh Mueller, a 24-year-old in the Colorado Rockies organization.
One player made his return in just 7 months – catcher Andrew Knapp of the Philadelphia Phillies.
Letting Fernandez return so quickly is a risky move for the Marlins, but one that could pay huge dividends. In a weakened National League East division, every game could have huge consequences. Having Fernandez start games rather than 5th starter Tom Koehler would be a huge win for the club.
Some analysts picked the Marlins to make the playoffs this season, even with Fernandez’s return scheduled for June or July. Now, at the beginning of April, the Marlins may be serious challengers for not just the wild card, but the division crown.