When reflecting back on this 2015 Marlins season in the future, one of the few bright spots that will stand out will be the return of Jose Fernandez. Despite his team's playoffs hopes being already crushed, the young ace injected life back into the Marlins season when he returned in early July. Fernandez returned to the mound in dominant fashion by boasting a 4-0 record to along with a 2.30 ERA in his first seven starts coming off of Tommy John surgery.
However, going along with the tune of the Marlins 2015 season, Fernandez's run of dominance was interfered with. After only throwing 76 pitches over five innings in his start against the Braves on August 7, Fernandez left the club and returned to Miami to get his shoulder, which was experiencing discomfort, examined. Fortunately for the Marlins and their franchise pitcher, the diagnosis was a right biceps strain.
Fernandez was placed on the 15-day disabled list and he has said that if he is healthy before the conclusion of the season then he expects to take the mound again in 2015. Taking all variables into consideration, such as the Marlins current position in the standings and Fernandez's injury history, it begs the question of 'should the Marlins shut down Fernandez for the rest of the season?'.
From the outside this seems like it would be an easy question to answer. The Marlins currently sit with one of the worst records in baseball and have nothing left to play for but pride and respect of the game. Fernandez was back healthy for just over a month before his experiencing discomfort in his shoulder. Shoulder injuries are not something to be rushed and should be taken with extra precaution, especially with pitchers. For example, Henderson Alvarez's shoulder injury hindered him all season long until he ultimately had to have season-ending surgery on it. So with just over a month of baseball left, the better option would appear to be shutting Fernandez down until next season as a precautionary measure.
While taking a deeper, more speculative dive into the question is when it starts to become tricky. All Marlins fans know how much Jose Fernandez loves to pitch and compete. It sounds cliche to say that about a professional baseball player, but Jose really loves to go out and pitch every fifth day. The Marlins were extra cautious with Fernandez in his recovery from Tommy John surgery, and he was a good soldier about it throughout the rehab process. But say Fernandez is healthy by September 1 and the Marlins want to take pre-cautious measures by shutting him down: Jose is probably not going to be happy about being shut down when he feels healthy and there is six starts left on the schedule.
With Fernandez being a player the Marlins want to build around as their number one starter for years to come, the last thing they want to do is continually upset a player. Of course a club does not base all of their decisions on if the players will be satisfied, but it might come into play with a player they hope to re-sign to a long-term deal in the near future.
If Fernandez is healthy in time to make at least two or three starts, the club will probably let him finish out the season. If they have any inkling of the injury hindering Jose again, then they would not hesitate to shut him down. In a lost season it seems aimless to have Fernandez come back for a few starts, but it would give Marlins fans a glimmer of hope to hold onto heading into 2016.
What do you think: Considering all variables should Fernandez be shut down for the rest of the season?