Jose Fernandez is arguably the best pitcher in the Miami Marlins organization. However, he might not be the team’s Opening Day starter on April 5 when the Marlins host the Detroit Tigers.
According to Craig Davis of The Sun-Sentinel, Miami manager Don Mattingly has not named an official starter for the first game of the season. Meanwhile, the Tigers announced on the first day of spring training that Justin Verlander will be their Opening Day starter.
“We kind of came to the conclusion, just haven’t told everybody. Once we do that, I’ll let you guys know. I’m ready. We’re waiting on some things. Michael [Hill] is still working on it. Once we get everything back we’ll be ready to go,” Mattingly said.
Davis noted that the manager’s remark is pointing towards a possible innings limit for Fernandez. Hill, who is the Marlins’ president of baseball operations, may be talking with people from Fernandez’s camp regarding a strategy to limit pitching workload.
The 23-year-old pitcher is entering his first full season since undergoing Tommy John surgery last 2014. Based on Miami’s spring schedule, Wei-Yin Chen is the possible starter for Opening Day.
“I’m ready right now. The season starts tomorrow, I think I’ll be ready. I’m expecting to be whatever they decide is best for the team. They can tell me the All-Star break if they want, it’s not going to change the way that I go about pitching,” Fernandez said regarding the situation.
In a report by ESPN, leaving the right-hander out of Opening Day will benefit the Marlins economically. The team has been struggling to fill the seats but the first game of the season usually draws many fans regardless who the starter is.
If their Cuban ace pitches in the second game of the season, it could draw more fans than normal. Miami is known for its Cuban community that loves to support Fernandez every time he starts.
Photo Courtersy: Roger DeWitt/Wikimedia Commons