When the Marlins decided to give 20-year-old right-hander Jose Fernandez a starting rotation spot out of spring training, it raised many eyebrows. But the kid looks ready.
Fernandez tossed five innings of one-run ball on Sunday afternoon in his major league debut against the Mets, yielding only three hits and one walk while striking out eight batters. He relied primarily on his high-90s fastball but also let loose some wicked curveballs and changeups, throwing 53 of his 80 pitches for strikes. Fernandez left the game in line for the win, but the Marlins bullpen couldn’t wrap it up for him.
Fernandez is on a bad team and isn’t going to register many victories this season, but he is immensely talented and pitches in a home ballpark that stymies power bats. Which makes him a fine mid-rotation fantasy starter even at such a young age. The 14th overall pick in the 2011 draft, Fernandez posted a career 2.02 ERA, 0.96 WHIP and 10.7 K/9 over 138 1/3 innings in the minor leagues. He may never pitch on the farm again.
Axford About To Get The Axe?
John Axford earned Cy Young Award votes in 2011 when he registered a 1.95 ERA and 86/25 K/BB ratio over 73 2/3 innings for the Brewers while racking up a league-high 46 saves. But that feels like a distant memory now.
Axford struggled to the tune of a 4.67 ERA and 1.44 WHIP in 2012 and is looking even worse through the first week of the 2013 regular season. The 30-year-old right-hander has allowed six earned runs on eight hits through 2 2/3 innings (three relief appearances) and blew a save in his only opportunity. The Brewers are saying that they’re going to stick by Axford, but that will probably change with one more blow-up.
Jim Henderson had a 3.52 ERA, 1.27 WHIP and 45/13 K/BB ratio in 30 2/3 innings last season and has rattled off three scoreless innings so far this year. He is next in line for saves and should be added in any fantasy league where he’s still available.
Hometown Kid Available For Home Opener
Cardinals third baseman David Freese completed a short rehab assignment this weekend with the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds and is expected to be activated before Monday’s home opener against the visiting Reds. The child of the St. Louis suburbs missed the first week of the regular season with a lower back bruise.
Freese returning means that Matt Carpenter will slide over to second base for good and should soon gain fantasy eligibility at the position. Carpenter, who posted a solid .828 OPS across 340 plate appearances in 2012, is batting .320/.414/.480 with seven runs and four RBI through 30 plate appearances in 2013. He’s a solid middle infield option in deep mixed fantasy leagues.
Freese hit .293/.372/.467 with a career-best 20 home runs and 79 RBI in 144 games last season. The back injury was never a serious concern, so plug him back into fantasy lineups with confidence this week.
National League Quick Hits: The Cubs have made a change at closer, installing newcomer Kyuji Fujikawa over Carlos Marmol ... Rockies outfielder Dexter Fowler went 2-for-5 with a home run on Sunday and is now batting .370/.414/.852 with four homers, five RBI and one stolen base through six games .... Jeff Samardzija struck out a career-high 13 batters over 52/3 innings Sunday in the Cubs’ loss to the Braves ... Ryan Braun has missed three straight games because of neck discomfort ... The Red Sox, Twins and Astros are among the teams that have expressed interest in acquiring Aaron Harang from the Rockies ... Matt Cain was shelled for nine runs in just 3 2/3 innings Sunday in a loss to the Cardinals ... Michael Cuddyer is day-to-day with a sore left wrist ... Dodgers starter Hyun-Jin Ryu earned his first career victory on Sunday after allowing only two runs on three hits over 61/3 innings against the Pirates ... Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman was placed on the disabled list Sunday with a strained right oblique ... Cole Hamels was hammered for eight earned runs Sunday in a loss to the Royals and is now 0-2 with a 10.97 ERA through two starts ... Jay Bruce went 2-for-5 with three RBI in Sunday’s win against the Nationals ... Brewers shortstop Jean Segura is day-to-day with a bruised left quad ... Pirates left-hander Francisco Liriano (arm) is scheduled to throw a two-inning simulated game on Wednesday ... Darwin Barney, who is currently on the 15-day disabled list, is hoping to have the stitches removed from his left knee on Monday ...
American League Quick Hits: Angels outfielder Josh Hamilton finally broke out of his early funk on Sunday, going 3-for-5 with a double in a loss to the Rangers ... Will Middlebrooks enjoyed his first three-homer game in Sunday’s blowout win over the Blue Jays ... Jered Weaver is questionable for his next scheduled start after suffering an elbow strain on Sunday night ... Orioles outfielder Nolan Reimold is day-to-day with right hamstring tightness ... The Red Sox are expected to activate Stephen Drew from the 7-day concussion disabled list before Monday’s home opener ... Carlos Santana finished 5-for-5 with a home run and three RBI in the Indians’ rout of the Rays on Sunday ... Josh Reddick suffered a sprained right wrist Sunday while making a running catch against the wall and is expected to sit out for a few games ... White Sox outfielder Dayan Viciedo hit a walkoff home run in Sunday’s win against the Mariners ... Jon Lester spun seven shutout innings in Sunday’s win over the Blue Jays and now sports a 1.50 ERA through two starts ... A’s starter Brett Anderson is day-to-day with a bruised left thumb ... Kelvin Herrera earned his first save of the season Sunday in the Royals’ defeat of the Phillies and needs to be owned in all leagues while Greg Holland’s struggles continue ... Red Sox DH David Ortiz (heels) could begin a minor league rehab assignment on Thursday ... R.A. Dickey was rocked again Sunday in the Blue Jays’ loss to the Red Sox ... Twins closer Glen Perkins earned his second save of the season Sunday in a victory against the Orioles ... The Blue Jays claimed right-hander Edgar Gonzalez off waivers from the Astros.