TUESDAY: The Tommy John epidemic has struck yet another budding pitching star.
Marlins ace Jose Fernandez is the victim, according to the Sun Sentinel's Juan Rodriguez. He will likely become the 18th pitcher since the start of Spring Training to undergo the procedure.
Fernandez was placed on the 15-day disabled list for an undisclosed reason yesterday. The Marlins later announced that it was due to a right elbow strain from results of an MRI, something that has not been good to pitchers so far this season. Fernandez has already undergone a second MRI. It later broke that Fernandez will likely need the surgery and will miss the rest of the 2014 season.
Since the Marlins drafted Fernandez with the 14th overall pick in the 2011 draft, he has been their go-to guy in their rotation. The National League Rookie of the Year award winner went 12-6 with a 2.19 ERA, 0.979 WHIP, and a 187/58 strikeout-to-walk ratio. His fiery personality and dominance on the mound made him a favorite in all of the Major Leagues, not just for the Miami Marlins.
To begin this season, Fernandez is 4-2 with a 2.44 ERA, 0.948 WHIP, and a 70/13 strikeout-to-walk ratio in eight games so far (51.2 innings pitched). Fernandez is coming off of a rough outing in San Diego in which he tossed five innings, allowing six runs (five earned) on six hits, striking out five and walking one. He threw only 80 pitches and recorded the third-worst game score of his career.
The Tommy John bug has been practically unavoidable for any young star pitcher. Fernandez's average fastball velocity of 94.7 mph since the start of the 2013 season ranks third in the Major Leagues (fangraphs.com). The two pitchers above him, Stephen Strasburg and Matt Harvey, have already undergone the surgery.
"You see how much he means, so much to our team and our rotation and really all of baseball," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. "He's been a dynamic player. He's been a huge lift and a huge spark for our team. We just hope everything goes well and he just has to take a little bit of a break."
The Marlins will surely miss Fernandez, as they've won five of their 20 games while he is on the mound. At 20-18, they have been a surprise to start the season, but without Fernandez the rest of the way, it does not look like they can keep it up.