Jose Fernandez hasn’t had to calm down too often during a start this season.
He had to for a moment Saturday afternoon after stepping into his manager’s office.
Fernandez, the Marlins’ 20-year-old talented rookie pitcher, had just found out he was an All-Star.
“It’s just incredible,” Fernandez said. “When they told me, I just started sweating and my hands started getting cold. They still are right now. I was just sitting around and thinking this is just incredible. I’m going to do the best I can.”
Fernandez found out from Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, who called in to Marlins manager Mike Redmond’s office after Saturday’s game as Redmond and Marlins vice president/general manager Mike Hill were listening.
Redmond said earlier this week that Fernandez could one day be the “face of the franchise.”
Fernandez will get a taste of what that feels like July 16 in New York as the Marlins lone representative selected to this year’s All-Star Classic.
Only 25 days away from his 21st birthday, Fernandez became the youngest Marlin to be named to the All-Star Game. Miguel Cabrera was 21 years and three months old when he was picked in 2004, and Dontrelle Willis was also 21 when he earned his first All-Star nod in 2003.
“I got lucky to be picked and be with those incredible players and learn from them the most I can,” Fernandez said. “I think it’s going to be a great experience, and I’m going to enjoy it.”
Fernandez, who is set to start the series finale Sunday against the Cardinals, is 5-4 with a 2.72 ERA in 16 starts and has 94 strikeouts to only 33 walks. His ERA is the best in the majors among rookie starting pitchers, and his strikeouts rank second among rookie pitchers overall, behind the Cardinals’ Shelby Miller (107).
In his last start July 1 against the Padres, Fernandez became only the third pitcher since 1921 to record at least 10 strikeouts while allowing only two hits or fewer and walking one batter or fewer in a game, joining Dwight Gooden (1984) and Kerry Wood (1998).
Fernandez had been rumored to be the most likely candidate for the Marlins’ mandatory spot on the National League roster during the past couple of weeks.
“I didn’t want to think about [getting picked],” Fernandez said. “It was all really hard not to think about it. I was just trying to go out there and pitch it start by start and get my job done and help the team win. That’s my main goal every time.”
But Fernandez took a moment to reflect on the five-year journey he has taken from his native Cuba to become an All-Star. Fernandez’s success, coupled with his story of courage by surviving four attempts to flee Cuba including the near-drowning of his mother, has resonated around baseball this season.
“It’s just something that I’ve wanted to do in my career,” Fernandez said. “This is playing with the best players in the world. When I think about it, it’s something that I’m going to remember for the rest of my life.”
Justin Ruggiano has kept his home run hitting exclusive to the road so far, and according to STATS LLC and SABR, the statistical quirk is approaching historic levels.
Ruggiano has a team-high 12 homers and is tied for seventh all-time in MLB history for consecutive road home runs to start the season. The record is 17 by Goose Goslin of the Washington Senators in 1926. Ruggiano entered Friday’s game tied with former Marlins first baseman Derrek Lee, who hit his first 12 homers in 2000 on the road.
Marlins RHP Fernandez (5-4, 2.72) vs. Cardinals RHPLance Lynn
(10-3, 3.75), 2:15 p.m., Busch Stadium.
Marlins RHPRicky Nolasco
(5-8, 3.85) vs. Braves LHPMike Minor
(8-4, 3.15), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.
Fernandez has two 10-strikeout games this season — his last start July 1 against. San Diego and a 5-4 win June 14 against the Cardinals at Marlins Park.