Jose Fernandez' Innings Limit

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Marlins still expect to hold Jose Fernandez to a limit of 150-170 innings pitched this season, though with his stellar performance that limit will likely be closer to 170. The Miami Herald reported Thursday night that the team is wary of overworking the budding star, who threw only 134 innings in A and high-A ball last season.
Redmond said he never thinks about the long-term innings limit Fernandez is on when he takes the mound. He said he goes "solely on how he's doing that day."

"If he has a chance to win a ball game or whatever it is, and he's going good then we'll let him throw seven or eight innings," Redmond said. “I've never gone into a game going we can only let him throw six innings a day. I take it from game to game. If he has a chance to throw a complete game then I'll let him throw a complete game. If he keeps his pitches down and he has a chance he’ll go out there."

But protecting Fernandez's young arm for the long term is still important to Redmond. Fernandez, for his part, would love to pitch the entire season, but he said he has no problem with the Marlins' plans in part because they have been up front since the beginning.
The Marlins are being very cautious with Fernandez, and that is wise considering their chances of making the 2013 playoffs are effectively zero. The team took a bit of a risk in calling him up at the start of the season (and thus starting his arbitration clock early). Losing him for significant time due to injury stemming from overworking him is something the team cannot afford.

This is far different from the Washington Nationals' decision to shut down Stephen Strasburg last season for a number of reasons. First is the pennant race issue - no one will criticize the Marlins the way the Nats were trashed in some circles for benching their best starter. Strasburg was also coming off Tommy John surgery, while Fernandez is ostensibly healthy. Still, the team is right to slowly work up his inning count over a few seasons.

Right now, Fernandez is at 104 and 2/3 innings for the season. With 69 games remaining, it would be very surprising if he pitched into late September. If Fernandez continues to average just under 6 innings a start, we can expect roughly 11 more starts for Fernandez this season. His next will be on Tuesday at Colorado. Set your DVRs accordingly.


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