The Miami Marlins cannot escape the bad news train. This time, however, the bad news is about the right upper extremity of Jose Fernandez.
The Fish are sending the right-handed ace back to Miami after suffering from right shoulder stiffness, and he will undergo further testing regarding the injury.
Jose Fernandez has flown back to Miami to see doctor for right shoulder stiffness. #marlins— clarkspencer (@clarkspencer) August 8, 2015
Unknown at this time whether Fernandez will miss next scheduled start #marlins— clarkspencer (@clarkspencer) August 8, 2015
These are just precautionary measures after a difficult inning against the Atlanta Braves last night. Fernandez threw 38 innings in the fourth inning against the Braves and gave up two runs after cruising through the first three innings. After the stressful inning, manager Dan Jennings let him come out for another quick, nine-pitch outing before pulling him for the remainder of the game.
Both parties seemed to be in agreement with the move, with no early indications of any injury. From Joe Frisaro of MLB.com:
"I think it's a good move," Fernandez said. "Obviously I wanted to stay out there, but sometimes you've got to be smarter."
"Felt like it was the right thing to do and the right time," Jennings said. "We have to be smart in how and what we do where he's concerned. So I made the decision that's what we needed to do."
Now the concern is that Fernandez labored through a tough inning and later complained of something like right shoulder stiffness. If you will recall, Fernandez struggled with arm tightness the last time he was injured, as he battled with sudden, extreme difficulty in one inning against the San Diego Padres before being pulled an inning later in early 2014. A few days later, we found out Fernandez had torn his UCL and would miss the remainder of the season.
This start is a little different. Fernandez did struggle against the Braves in the fourth, but his velocity did not drop as badly as it did against the Padres a year ago. In that start, Fernandez went from throwing in the mid- to high-90's to 89 mph at one point with his fastball. Something clearly went wrong. In this latest stint against Atlanta, the lowest the fastball went was 92 mph. That is still a drop from his usual, but it seemed temporary. In his nine-pitch fifth inning, his few fastballs topped 94 mph.
Still, with a report of any arm symptoms after that kind of rough outing, the Marlins are wise to follow up on Fernandez given his recent injury history. He is one of the most important investments and assets on the team, and in a season in which nothing is going right and the team is headed nowhere, there is no reason to risk his health. The Marlins need to make sure Fernandez is healthy and undamaged if they plan on sending him out onto the field again.