Coming into the 2015 season, the starting rotation appeared to be a stable staff and was expected to be a strength for the Marlins. Unfortunately, just about two months into the season, the rotation has been a revolving door as a result of injuries. But on Monday the Marlins received good news on three of their starters who are currently rehabbing from injury.
The first, and most notable of which, is Jose Fernandez who pitched in a live game for the first time in over a year yesterday. During an extended spring game in Jupiter, Fernandez struck out seven of the ten batters he faced over three innings and finished the day striking out six in a row. In total, he threw 42 pitches with his fastball ranging in the mid-90s. Here is what Fernandez had to say after his first live outing, via Joe Frisaro of MLB.com:
"I'm just trying to feel my mechanics and let the ball come out the way it should," Fernandez said of his approach on Monday. "I'm not a radar gun guy anymore. Location, I think, is more important than the speed, and I feel healthy, and that's the big picture here."
After checking off this bench mark, Fernandez has now been cleared to begin his rehab assignment, which will start this Saturday in Class-A Jupiter. The expectation is that he will make one more start there, and then the club will determine how long his stay at Double-A and Triple-A will be.
Fernandez's opposing pitcher in the extended spring game was Jarred Cosart. Cosart has been on the disabled list since May 18 with vertigo. In three innings Cosart threw 60 pitches while striking out five. Cosart is expected to begin his rehab assignment this week. Through seven starts this season Cosart has a 1-3 record and a 4.08 ERA.
Mat Latos, who is recovering from left knee inflammation, threw a bullpen session today. Latos is scheduled to begin his minor league rehab assignment later this week as well. Latos has really struggled this season, as he holds a 1-4 record to go along with a 6.12 ERA.
Out of all three pitchers, Fernandez will have the longest track to big leagues. If all goes perfect, Fernandez could return in early July, but the realistic date of return still seems to be some time around the All-Star break. On the other hand, Cosart and Latos could be back in the rotation within the next couple of weeks. The final missing piece of the rotation in Henderson Alvarez will begin playing catch next week, as his return remains unknown.