Fernandez wraps up impressive season 

September, 12, 2013
Fantasy owners really could not have asked for much more of Miami Marlins right-hander Jose Fernandez this year. The Cuban import surprisingly made the Marlins out of spring training at age 20, became a popular fantasy free-agent pickup immediately, held his own the first half of the season despite the lack of awesome teammates around him, and then was quite simply the best pitcher in the game after the All-Star break. Fernandez finished his rookie season Wednesday with seven innings of one-run ball to beat the Atlanta Braves, and even smacked a home run and helped provoke a benches-clearing incident. That’s how good he is.

Jose Fernandez
Elsa/Getty ImagesSince the All-Star break, Jose Fernandez has been arguably the best pitcher in baseball.
Alas, it’s all over because the Marlins decided to pick the random number of 170 innings and shut down Fernandez at that point. Mind you there’s no conclusive evidence that this move will help Fernandez stay healthier next year -- see Matt Harvey -- but ultimately, all that matters is that fantasy owners in redraft formats should thank Fernandez and move on to someone else these final weeks. Fernandez ends his first season with 12 wins in 28 starts, a 2.19 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and 187 strikeouts in 172 2/3 innings, and he’s 16th overall on the Player Rater, and behind only Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer and Craig Kimbrel among pitchers. It might be the best season ever for a rookie pitcher, right there with Dwight Gooden, Fernando Valenzuela and of course, Mark Fidrych.

Kershaw will likely take home another NL Cy Young award -- more wins, innings, strikeouts, better ERA -- but Fernandez certainly has deserving numbers, and we’ll see about top rookie honors between him and Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig. When it comes to fantasy, however, Fernandez is the pick as top rookie, even with three weeks to go. This is a pitcher with terrific command, a dominant slider, and he throws hard. Batters hit .182 off him this year, best in the majors. The No. 2 rookie on the Player Rater is Puig at No. 84.