Jose Fernandez should not take the mound again in 2015. Giancarlo Stanton should not be in the lineup again in 2015. Inevitably, both will happen.
Miami is not competing for a playoff spot. The Marlins, who only lost Aaron Crow to Tommy John surgery but were otherwise relatively healthy throughout spring training, have been plagued by injuries all season. While injured core players should be shut down, the Marlins cannot do so. The club has to evaluate its roster and determine how to make it better heading into 2016.
Fernandez, still just 23, returned from Tommy John surgery and was able to make seven starts. But then, after a start in Atlanta, he was sidelined with a right biceps injury. He is currently on the disabled list but wants to pitch again this season.
Stanton, still just 25, was healthy and productive throughout the first few months of the season before undergoing hand surgery. He was expected to return in six to eight weeks, but the Marlins rightfully did not feel the need to rush him back. Stanton is in the process of regaining strength in his wrist, key for any notable power hitter as Stanton is.
Henderson Alvarez made a few starts but has since had season-ending surgery. David Phelps was recently shut down for the year. Jose Urena is out with a left knee contusion. Jarred Cosart had been plagued by vertigo symptoms throughout the first few months of the season. Carter Capps is out with a right elbow strain. And the list continues.
Even if the Marlins were not competitive, having their starters healthy would have likely facilitated the evaluation process. There would not need to be a discussion with regard to the rotation or the lineup or the bullpen. The club would be able to determine which pieces to keep and which to move on from. But the injuries have made it challenging.
Tom Koehler is currently the only lock in the Marlins' 2016 starting rotation. Christian Yelich is currently the only lock in the Marlins' 2016 starting outfield. The Marlins have been playing through injuries all season. As a result, the club needs to see what its starters look like healthy.
If the Marlins were able to place Stanton into the lineup and Fernandez into the rotation and estimate productivity, shutting both down for the season would be realistic. The Marlins would then be able to determine how to make the club better. But neither Stanton nor Fernandez have been healthy of late which makes estimating production unrealistic.
The Marlins need Stanton and Fernandez to play to help determine their offseason plans. Without Stanton in the outfield and lineup, Miami might not know the best way to upgrade the offense. Without Fernandez in the rotation, Miami might not know the best way to upgrade the pitching staff. The Marlins have a core in place, but Stanton and Fernandez are key pieces of it.
Stanton and Fernandez will both likely play again in 2015, not because it is the right move but because it is the necessary one. Coming off of injuries in a lost season, both should be shut down. But for the sake of 2016, the Marlins simply cannot do it.