The Miami Marlins knew starting pitcher Jose Fernandez was good. No team is going to promote a 20-year-old who has never pitched higher than Single-A to the big leagues if he wasn’t. However, even Miami did not expect the performance they witnessed Sunday afternoon.
Fernandez became the youngest player in Marlins franchise history to start a game on the mound. If that wasn’t enough, he also finished the day with the most strikeouts (eight) in franchise history by a pitcher making their Major League Baseball debut. There is no question the Marlins are hoping this is just the beginning for the young starter.
The right-hander arrived in the United States on April 5, 2008 after he defected from Cuba on March 20 of the same year. Fernandez survived gun shots being fired at him as their boat sped away, the uneasiness of being in a new country and two years in the Minors before finally getting his chance in the big leagues a mere five years later.
Fernandez was running on all cylinders in his debut. He also showed no fear at any point while on the mound, something a majority of young pitchers experience when making their first start.
“The only thing I was scared about was getting in that boat, getting shot at,” Fernandez told Marlins.com. “Sometimes jumping in the water. After that, I’m not scared about anything else. I’ve been in jail. I’ve been shot at. I’ve been in the water. What am I going to do?
“That’s why, when people say to me, ‘Are you nervous, are you scared?’ I’m not scared to do anything.”
Fernandez consistently fired fastballs that topped out at 97 miles per hour, while his secondary pitches constantly fooled the opposing batters. Unfortunately, as good as Fernandez pitched against the New York Mets, the Marlins were still unable to win the ball game.
“He did great. He deserved to win that game,” Marlins manager Mike Redmond said, according to Marlins.com. “That one hurts. We talked about what he can do. He showed it. He has a great fastball. For a 20-year-old kid, he’s got some great secondary pitches.”
Reliever Steve Cishek hit Ruben Tejada with a pitch, and then surrendered back-to-back hits that allowed two runs to score. The save was blown, Fernandez’s win became a no-decision and Miami’s struggles continue.
With that being said, the good news is that the Marlins have an outstanding pitcher that clearly has the makings to be a superstar someday in the near future.