The Miami Marlins handed the Los Angeles Dodgers their eighth straight loss, and they did so on the backs of young players like Jose Fernandez and Derek Dietrich, which must make the Marlins' brass excited.
Jose Fernandez's Hollywood Debut
We mentioned earlier this season that Jose Fernandez was the next great Hollywood baseball movie, and he continued that trend in last night's game by pitching a strong effort against the Dodgers. Fernandez struck out seven batters and gave up three runs in six innings. His only runs came in the first inning, when he yielded a three-run homer to Adrian Gonzalez. From then on, Fernandez spread out the runners safely and held down the Dodgers.
One of the problems I saw early in Fernandez's time in the big leagues was his swinging strike rate. It has climbed from the 7.9 percent just a few starts ago to 8.6 percent, but problems still potentially linger. Fernandez threw his typical 82 pitches yesterday, but he only induced six swings and misses, good for a 7.3 percent rate on his total pitches. The biggest swing-and-miss culprit was the curveball, as Fernandez got four whiffs on the pitch in 25 deliveries.
While the fastball did not induce too many whiffs, it was still a highly effective pitch. First off, it is difficult not to be effective when you are throwing 96 mph on average.
That velocity chart shows him hanging out right around 96 mph at the start of the game and kicking it up a notch for a few pitches in the latter part of the game. Fernandez climbed past 98 mph on two occasions, and that kind of velocity is difficult to deal with from a starting pitcher.
But the real story in this game for Fernandez was his control, which was ailing just a few starts ago and is now dominant again.
His strike zone was elite in perhaps his best performance in the zone yet. Fernandez threw only 16 balls in 82 pitches, and he threw 21 called strikes last night. That is a balls-to-called-strike ratio of 0.8, which is unheard of. Fernandez pounded the zone consistently, especially with his fastball. He threw 10 balls and 13 called strikes with his 96 mph offering, making it extremely difficult to hit. Overall, out of 47 fastballs thrown, Fernandez got strikes that were not in play (called strikes, swinging strikes, and fouls only) in 28 of those pitches, almost a 60 percent rate. Once again, that explains why he had a low swing-and-miss rate and still a high strikeout rate.
Derek Dietrich's First Bomb
Derek Dietrich sent a fourth-inning pitch from Matt Magill exactly where it needed to go for the Marlins, as he hit a line drive home run for his first major league dinger of his career. Dietrich got to experience the homer with his family in the stands, which is a nice moment for the youngster. The Marlins know that Dietrich is a middle infielder with some pop, as he hit 28 doubles, 10 triples, and 14 homers in total last year in the Tampa Bay Rays' organization, so the first home run coming this early in the kid's career is not all that surprising.