Search Archives
Follow Us

Featured Sponsors


Mailing List
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for our Email Newsletter
For Email Marketing you can trust
Twitter Feeds

This site utilizes the MLB analytics platform powered by TruMedia Networks

Entries in Jose Fernandez (4)

Thursday
Aug082013

Jose Fernandez: Lineup Navigator

Marlins rookie Jose Fernandez has persevered over more challenges during his 21 years than most of us will during our entire lives. Three prison stints for failed defection attempts from Cuba. Diving off a boat into the Atlantic Ocean to save his mother from drowning during one of those tries. Finally reaching the States, via Trinidad and Cancun. Perhaps it shouldn't surprise us, then, that he's unfazed by major league competition.

Fernandez, who just turned 21, ranks eighth among all major league starting pitchers in ERA+ (153). Such run prevention prowess at such a young ace is nearly unprecedented: Dwight Gooden (229 ERA+ in 1985), Bob Feller (154 ERA+ in 1939) and Don Drysdale (153 ERA+ in 1957) are the only other starters to post an adjusted ERA at least 50 percent better than the league average during their age-20 season.

Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of Fernandez's historic season is that he's just as dominant while navigating opposing lineups for the third time during the game as he is the first time. Most hurlers become less effective as their pitch counts rise and opponents become familiar with their stuff, holding hitters to a .394 slugging percentage the first time around but allowing them to slug .409 the second time and .435 the third time. Not Fernandez, though: batters are slugging .287 when facing him the first time, .272 the second time and .283 the third time.

Fernandez is thriving late in games because the quality of his stuff doesn't slip. Most starters lose zip on their fastballs as the game progresses, but Miami's 6-foot-2, 240 pound ace retains his 94+ MPH velocity. Just when you think he's starting to slow down, he ramps it back up:

Fernandez's average and maximum fastball velocity by inning

1st: 95 MPH, 99 MPH max

2nd: 94.8 MPH, 97.9 MPH max

3rd: 94.8 MPH, 98.1 MPH max

4th: 94.5 MPH, 98.5 MPH max

5th: 94.1 MPH, 98.4 MPH max

6th: 94.9 MPH, 97.9 MPH max

7th: 94.2 MPH, 97.2 MPH max

8th: 94.1 MPH, 97 MPH max

Holding his elite heat deep into the night, Fernandez actually has a lower opponent slugging percentage with his fastball in innings 5-8 (.311) than in innings 1-4 (.344). When you've battled the churning waves of the Atlantic, facing Brian McCann or Bryce Harper the third time around doesn't seem so hard.

Sunday
Jul282013

Cole, Fernandez Getting Outs, if not Whiffs, with Blazing Fastballs

Catchers on both clubs will ice sore hands this afternoon, as Pittsburgh's Gerrit Cole squares off against Miami's Jose Fernandez. Cole is tied with the Mets' Matt Harvey for the highest average fastball velocity (95.4 MPH) among starting pitchers, while Fernandez (94.6 MPH) also ranks in the top 10. You might think such premium gas would lead to lots of swings and misses, but you'd be wrong. Both hard-throwing rookies are attacking hitters with their fastballs, posting modest whiff totals with the pitch but beating batters nonetheless.

Cole (14.5% fastball miss rate) and Fernandez (14.4%) have nearly identical fastball whiff rates that are below the major league average for starters (15.1%). Yet, Cole and Fernandez sit near the top of the charts when it comes to limiting hard fastball contact.

Lowest opponent fastball slugging percentage among starting pitchers, 2013 (Min. 500 fastballs thrown)

How have Cole and Fernandez been so successful with their fastballs despite such modest whiff rates? They're pumping fastballs over the plate, challenging hitters to take their best shot against their high-speed heaters.

Cole's fastball location, 2013

Fernandez's fastball location, 2013

Cole has located 57% of his fastballs within the strike zone, tied with Clayton Kershaw for fifth-highest among National League starters and well north of the 53% MLB average in 2013. Fernandez has been similarly aggressive, throwing 56% of his fastballs in the strike zone. With heat like this, why nibble?

The battle between batter and pitcher can be a complex game of percentages, but sometimes, it's brutally simple. Cole and Fernandez don't think anyone can touch their searing fastballs. So far, they're right.

Monday
Jul082013

Peter Gammons: Premium Pitching in the NL East

It has become eminently clear that the National League East is becoming the pitching division.

This was the discussion that began among some Padres players, coaches and front office people now after having faced the Met’s Matt Harvey, Miami’s Jose Fernandez and Washington’s Stephen Strasburg.

“Those three have the best stuff of any starters in the league,” said one official. And as the comparative debate went on, there were actually a few opinions that Strasburg actually was third on the list in terms of pure stuff.

Here’s how the Friars have done against the three pheenoms in 2013

April 3 – In the second game of the season, the Padres faced Matt Harvey and he was brilliant. He threw seven innings allowing only an Everth Cabrera single in the 4th. He didn’t walk anyone and struck out 10.  

July 1 – The Padres had similar struggles against Jose Fernandez. The Miami marvel pitched eight innings allowing just two hits and a walk while striking out 10. “All I can tell you is that Fernandez is already special,” said Padres hitting coach Phil Plantier. Two of his hitters compared him to Felix Hernandez. “His changeup isn’t there yet,” said one outfielder, “but Felix’s changeup wasn’t fully developed until he was 25. This guy is 20.” And since June 1, Fernandez is 5-4, 2.72 with 21 hits allowed in 40 1/3 innings.  

July 7 - Despite striking out six of the first 11 batters he faced, the Padres roughed up Strasburg getting to him for seven hits and four runs in six innings of work. Strasburg walked two and whiffed nine and allowed one homer. On May 16, Strasburg broke a five-game personal losing streak when he held the Padres to three hits and two runs (one earned) in eight innings.

“Don’t underestimate all Strasburg has gone through,” says one general manager. “He’s had to cope with being Stephen Strasburg, with everyone across the country watching his every start.” The Padres are 0-4 against the three this season.

Beware the Marlins

“The Marlins can be good in a hurry because of their pitching,” says San Diego manager Bud Black. “We faced (Nate) Eovaldi. He sat 96.” Jacob Turner is 22, and developing and with Henderson Alvarez thrown in with Fernandez, Eovaldi and Turner, as they return home Monday to begin a pre-All Star series with the Braves and Nationals, they are aware that since going 13-41 through May 30, the Marlins are 19-14 and loom as a major factor in the National League East race. Atlanta has 13 games remaining with Miami, Washington 12.

Beware the NL East

“What is happening in the National League East is that it is becoming a power pitching division,” says one veteran NL scout. “That’s one reason it’s so hard for Ruben Amaro to throw up his hands and trade off a Cliff Lee or (Jonathan) Papelbon.

It’s hard enough right now. But think a year from now what the Braves, Marlins, Mets and Nationals are going to be throwing at the Phillies.” With their impending television deal, the Phillies cannot afford to throw Jesse Biddle out there behind Cole Hamels and promise the world that in time they’ll retool their starting pitching to the point that they can match up with their four division rivals. If the Phillies can get a semblance of the great Roy Halladay back with Lee, Hamels and Biddle, they can and likely will be contenders.

The Braves are always going to have good pitching. Mike Minor is 25, Julio Teheran 22, Alex Wood 23, Kris Medlen 27, Brandon Beachy 26 with the depth potential of Tim Hudson and Paul Maholm and the great closer in Craig Kimbrel.

The Nationals are going to spend the next few years building around Strasburg, Jordan Zimmerman and Gio Gonzalez.

Then there are the Mets, with the potential in 2014 of a staff that brings back flashes of 1969 and 1986 with Harvey, Zack Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard (2-0 in Binghamton with a 23-4 strikeout-walk ratio in 18 innings) with a very good depth chart of Jon Niese, Jeremy Hefner and Dillon Gee, none of whom will be older than 28. Oh yes, don’t ignore Rafael Montero, who two years ago was in the Dominican Summer League and in 2014 could be well be in the young, powerful Mets rotation.

Time will tell in the NL East

The National League East has been a division that slipped through the hands of the Mets, passed on to the Phillies and has always been within grasp of a Braves organization that develops pitching and players and does not dabble in the high risk, high publicity, high reward world of free agency.

It has had stars, and with Bryce Harper, Jason Heyward, Freddie Freeman, Andrelton Simmons, et al, and will for at least for a while have Giancarlo Stanton, even if Marlins ownership cannot get him to buy into their promises.

Time will determine the Strasburg/Harvey/Fernandez debate, as well as the development or wear on each young pitcher’s stuff. But as the debate rages as to who is the best potential pitcher east of Clayton Kershaw, it is clear that this is the division that will be dominated by big arms until we fully know just how good, or great, the three phenoms turn out to be.