- Eric Karabell, ESPN.com Senior Writer
Let’s start with the good news, shall we? There’s an opening in the Miami Marlins rotation, however unfortunate, and someone needs to fill it. As of now it could be one of myriad options, the most intriguing being 22-year-old lefty Andrew Heaney down at Double-A Jacksonville. He boasts a 2.31 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, one home run permitted in seven starts and nearly a strikeout per inning this season. (My colleague Christopher Crawford covered Heaney in a recent story on left-handed pitcher prospects). The Marlins certainly haven’t been scared to promote aggressively and skip a level or two to get the right player to the big leagues, so he's a possibility.
Perhaps the fill-in choice will be veteran right-hander/slop-thrower Kevin Slowey or lefty Brad Hand sliding in from the bullpen. Or, it could be 24-year-old lefty Brian Flynn, who made four unsuccessful starts for the Marlins in 2013. Flynn has fanned 40 over 46 1/3 innings with a 3.69 ERA and 1.28 WHIP at Triple-A New Orleans, and while I wouldn’t look at him for mixed formats, the way the Fish have pitched at Marlins Park (2.61 ERA) anyone piques our interest for deeper formats.
Of course, none of this changes the fact that the awesome Jose Fernandez will likely need season-ending surgery to replace his torn UCL. And that just stinks for everyone.
Sometimes fantasy owners think they can guess the pitchers likely to suffer a major elbow injury. Perhaps it’s an older gentleman with lots of innings to his name, or a youngster whose arm has been a bit abused in a short amount of time. Maybe it’s someone with an odd, sudden drop in fastball velocity, another that has had trouble staying healthy or even a pitcher that already has undergone Tommy John surgery in the past. Well, on Monday the Marlins and the fantasy world got rough news on Fernandez, who really fits into none of the categories above. He’s awesome and a joy to watch, yet alone own in a fantasy league. And still, he’ll (likely) need the critical ligament replaced, a Tommy John surgical procedure we all know too well as simply meaning, "Sorry fella, we'll see ya in about a year."
In other words, and I don’t mean this as negatively as it might seem, nobody is truly safe.