Fans of baseball received quite a treat on Thursday night. They were fortunate enough to witness two of the youngest, most promising arms in the game of baseball go toe to toe.
Jose Fernandez and Tony Cingrani were on the hill last night during the matchup between the Marlins and Reds. It was his third career start, while Cingrani made his major league debut. The 23-year old Cingrani got the better of Fernandez, tossing a solid five innings, surrendering one run while striking out eight. Fernandez, meanwhile, saw his first struggle of his career, allowing five earned runs over four innings. Cingrani clearly looked like the better pitcher, but does that mean I’d prefer him in my fantasy rotation over 20-year old Fernandez?
No, not at all.
In fact, despite Cingrani’s impressive debut, I am still siding with Fernandez on my fantasy roster. Look, it was his third career start against a very good Reds’ offense. Prior to this game, the kid looked like a grizzled veteran on the hill. Fernandez is pretty much a lock to remain in the big leagues for the rest of the season. Cingrani, meanwhile? I’m not as sure. Remember, if it hadn’t been for an unfortunate Johnny Cueto injury, Cingrani probably wouldn’t have even been called up. The safer bet to stay would certainly be Fernandez.
Also, I think the Marlins young talent has better overall stuff than Cingrani. Fernandez’s fastball clocks in between 95-97 miles per hour and can blow by opposing batters. One of the reasons he had difficulty on Thursday night was because he was predictable. He would often try to go right at batters early in the count with his fastball and the Reds picked up on it. I think he will learn from that and adjust. Remember, he is only 20 years of age. His fastball is good, but what really sets him apart is his ridiculous breaking ball. The ball looks like it’s heading right towards the batter’s face and then suddenly dips down right into the corner of the strike zone, causing hitters to freeze. Just… just look at it.
Sure, you can certainly make the argument that Cingrani has a much, much better team and batting lineup behind him. He’ll have a better opportunity to win ball games, but Fernandez is the better long term option, especially in keeper formats. Keep in mind, while Cingrani’s debut was impressive, that doesn’t necessarily mean he didn’t struggle. It took him 102 pitches to get through five innings and he appeared to struggle towards the beginning of the game.
All in all, I believe Fernandez just had overall better stuff and at 20-years old, he has plenty of time to progress and get even better, which will create an absolute headache for opposing hitters. Both, however, will see great success and will be awfully fun to watch as they continue on in their young pro careers.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.