Jose Fernandez dropped a calling card at Citi Field yesterday, a notice that the Mets are not alone in the arms race. The precocious righty’s first start above Single-A was an impressive major league debut. Born a month after the Yankees drafted a shortstop named Derek Jeter in 1992, Fernandez held the Mets to one run in five innings. Marlon Byrd said Fernandez reminded him of Felix Hernandez, and Ike Davis noted the youngest pitcher in the majors looked as if he was “having fun probably because he was striking us all out.” With his 95-mph heat, devilish late-breaking curve and poise that convinced Miami officials a 20-year-old could handle this jump, Fernandez fanned eight — the most ever by a Marlin in his debut. That Fernandez was facing journeyman Aaron Laffey yesterday rather than Zack Wheeler emphasized the Mets are following a different and, I believe, proper strategy with their best pitching prospect. The Marlins lost Nate Eovaldi and Henderson Alvarez to injury, and Jacob Turner did not show enough progress to warrant a rotation spot. So Miami went from limiting Fernandez’s exposure in spring training and ticketing him for Double-A to starting him in Game 6. Of course, the Marlins are as steady as Lindsay Lohan. They are the champions of changing plans — Team U-Turn. Organizations that have even a whiff of contention should be aggressive in moving prospects to the majors. But after yet another payroll gutting of their roster, the Marlins will need a baseball miracle simply to avoid the worst record in the NL. Thus, it makes no sense to start the arbitration and free-agent clocks on as talented a prospect as Fernandez, especially because money probably is going to remain an issue for the franchise.
Mets wise to let Wheeler wait as Marlins hurry Fernandez
New York Post | Apr 9