Miami wants to keep starter Jose Fernandez, who returned from Tommy John surgery last season, on pace to pitch about 180 innings this season, according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.
That likely will mean skipping him a start or two, though Mattingly declined to make that official, saying only “We have a plan.”... As Mattingly noted tonight, "It's almost like [Jose] is getting better every time."...
Fernandez tossed seven scoreless innings in his last start against the Pirates and has anchored Miami's rotation to this point in the season. Over 67.2 innings this season, the club's ace has pitched to a 2.53 ERA and 2.25 FIP.
Entering the season, it was clear the Marlins were prepared to limit the number of innings Fernandez pitches. However, if he pitches well, as he has thus far, the Marlins might be forced to have Fernandez skip a start.
If the Marlins remain competitive, things will remain challenging for the Marlins as they determine how to best handle the Fernandez situation. Currently, the club is 4.5 games out of first place in the National League East.
The Marlins could quickly gain ground in the division, and as a result, Fernandez could surpass the 180 inning mark this season.
If having Fernandez miss a start or two is ideal for the club, though, the Marlins have other options to turn to.
Since Fernandez could leave Miami as a free agent in a few seasons, the Marlins are challenged to maximize his productivity. However, they do need to ensure he remains healthy as the focal point of the team's pitching staff.
Miami's front office appears to have a plan for Fernandez, and that plan could change depending on how competitive the club is. If the Marlins are in a position to compete for at least a wild card spot, Fernandez might exceed that 180 innings goal.