Very few things went right for the 2013 Miami Marlins this past season, but one thing undoubtedly went well for them. At the start of the season, the promotion of Jose Fernandez to the main roster in response to injuries to Nathan Eovaldi and Henderson Alvarez seemed like an ill-advised move. The franchise had little to gain by promoting him at the start of the year, as not only did the team lose a year of service time by not waiting a few weeks at the start of the year, they also risked Fernandez being overwhelmed in the majors. After all, prior to this year, he had only pitched in one full professional season since being drafted in the first round in 2011.
The former point still stands after Fernandez's 2013 season, but the latter point regarding Fernandez not being ready was sure proven wrong.
Jose Fernandez started right at the onset, not having pitched one inning at the Double-A or higher level, but he was dominant all season long. After a solid first two months in which he posted a 3.78 ERA and 3.87 FIP, he really turned up his game just as the Marlins began upping his innings count. By June, he had thrown 32 innings in five starts and struck out 32 batters. In July, he went up to 35 innings in five starts and whiffed 40 hitters. Finally, in a six-start August, Fernandez threw 39 innings and struck out 49 batters. Meanwhile, his walk totals remained stagnant from May through August at around 10 or 11 per month despite increasing workloads.
Fernandez's individual games came in bunches of brilliance. There was his eight-strikeout debut against the New York Mets. There was the two-game stretch in late July and early August in which he whiffed a whopping 27 hitters in 16 innings with just one walk and one run to his name. There was the start against Colorado in which he struck out eight and demolished the hopes and dreams of Troy Tulowitzki. There is the one-hitter against the Washington Nationals. How about the home run and fracas with the Atlanta Braves on his final night? Not only do the season numbers make for a memorable year, but there are moments of the season that we as Marlins fans will never forget.
And that may have been what Fernandez did best for Marlins fans this year. We will discuss the numbers in detail when we talk about Fernandez's year as a whole later this month, but suffice to say, they are impressive. In fact, they are already among the best a rookie pitcher has ever thrown. There has been no dispute about this anywhere. But what Fernandez gave Marlins fans more than anything else were moments and memories in a season filled with forgettable nights. Etched in history are things such as that Tulowitzki catch, that home run, or those one-of-a-kind pitching performances that generated genuine excitement in Miami. For all the lost plate appearances and scoreless outings, Jose Fernandez gave us mementos to keep for the rest of our lives if you watched the 2013 season.
Even more than that, Fernandez also gave us promise this year. His 2013 season was so amazing that it gave us the promise of future excellence from a young guy who just turned 21 years old. Marlins fans know, no matter how bad the 2014 roster may start off, they will see Fernandez on Opening Day in Miami and get to watch him dominate another roster for another year. He provided us the promise of a nucleus for the future of the franchise, at least for the immediate future. If the Miami Marlins are to be competitive again in the next two to three years, you can rest assure they will lean heavily on Jose Fernandez, and the reason why we can even think this is because of his magical 2013 season.
So you see, the numbers are just one thing that Fernandez gave us. The memories are another. The hopefully bright future is yet another. Fernandez was one giving man to Marlins fans in 2013. He just never gave anything to opposing batters, and Fish fans are excited for more of the same next year.