The Miami Marlins have smartly decided that they will be placing an innings limit on rookie pitching phenom Jose Fernandez, but might this cost him a chance to win the NL Rookie of the Year Award?
The 21-year-old Fernandez has been easily the lone bright spot for the Marlins this season. He is 9-5 on the season with the NL’s third lowest ERA (2.41), fourth-lowest WHIP (1.02) and seventh-highest strikeout numbers (157). He has given up four or more earned runs just three times, the last of which came May 27.
Since then, Fernandez has pitched his best three months, finishing with a 1.67 ERA in June (32.1 IP), 2.06 ERA in July (35 IP) and 1.04 ERA in August (26 IP, 15 shutout innings).
Among rookie pitchers, Fernandez sits at the top of his class. He leads all rookie starters in ERA and strikeouts with 157, 12 more than the second-place rookie.
But Fernandez does have top notch competition in two other starting pitchers, Hyun-Jin-Ryu of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Julio Teheran of the Atlanta Braves. Oh and of course, there is that Yasiel Puig guy who has the highest average, on-base percentage and slugging among all qualifying rookies.
Over the past 10 years, pitchers have only won the NL rookie of the year award twice, and only once has it gone to a starter. And considering that starting pitchers like Fernandez only impact about a third or a quarter of what their offensive counterparts do, it is harder for a pitcher to win this award. And that is in a normal season when you aren’t competing against the numbers of a guy like Puig.
Having an innings limit all but makes it impossible for Fernandez to win considering that the Braves have already said Teheran will not have one, and it seems the Dodgers are proceeding the same way with Ryu. At most, Fernandez is allowed to pitch 170 innings, putting his approximate shut down date at around September 4 based off the assumption he pitches seven innings every five days.
It makes sense that the Marlins are doing this. They want to protect their young arm and unlike the Dodgers and Braves, they have no reason not to since they’re not going to the playoffs.
Ultimately, this could end up costing Fernandez the crown. Not that he would be guaranteed to win it otherwise, but he certainly would have had a better shot.