The same year Jose Fernandez fell to the Marlins with the 14th pick in the draft, the Pirates grabbed Gerrit Cole with the first. As sensational as Fernandez has been when healthy, the Pirates probably aren't second-guessing their decision.
Cole has lived up to billing, and did so Thursday at Marlins Park.
That’s where he ran his record to 15-7 in the Pirates’ 2-1 win over Miami.
“Pretty special arm,” Marlins manager Dan Jennings said of Cole. “You know you’re in for a battle anytime he’s the opposing pitcher. His stuff is qualify. He’s one of the better guys in the National League, no doubt.”
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The Marlins mustered only five hits— all of them singles — off the right-hander. Even though it was Cole’s first win since July 26, he remains a candidate for the Cy Young Award, with likely no objections coming from the Marlins.
Cole won both of his outings this season against the Marlins, holding them to three runs over 14 1/3 combined innings.
On Thursday, he held them scoreless until the seventh when Derek Dietrich’s sacrifice fly scored Martin Prado from third.
Other than that, the Marlins did zilch.
And Justin Nicolino, despite allowing only two runs over six innings, was no match for Cole.
Nicolino gave up a run in the second on a sacrifice fly, worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the third, and gave up a long home run to center to Pedro Alvarez in the fourth.
The Pirates ended up taking three out of four in the series and six out of seven from the Marlins during the season.
The Marlins now head to Washington, where they'll open a six-game road trip Friday against the Nationals and Braves.
Fire drill alarms sounded inside Marlins Park during batting practice on Thursday, prompting Jennings to declare: “It sounds like the emergency room for the starting rotation.”
But there was a rare bit of positive news on the pitching front. Fernandez threw his first bullpen session on Thursday, and Jennings said it went extremely well — so well that Fernandez — who is on the 15-day DL with a biceps strain — could return to the mound for the Marlins within two weeks.
“I think it went something like, wow,” Jennings said of Fernandez’s 30-pitch session. “I talked to [trainer Sean Cunningham], and he said it was very impressive. He said he’s right on track, looks good, [ball] jumped out of his hand. So we’ll start to build that up now."
Jennings said Fernandez would likely throw one more bullpen, followed by a simulation game, before putting him back on the mound.
“Somewhere early to mid-September is probably a realistic target date,” Jennings said of the timetable on Fernandez’s return.
▪ Jarred Cosart made a rehab start Thursday for Single A Jupiter, going five innings while allowing four earned runs on five hits and a walk. He struck out four.
Christian Yelich is continuing to deal with discomfort in his bruised right knee, was left out of Thursday’s lineup, and didn’t take batting practice.
Yelich also fouled a ball off his shin and ankle Wednesday, further compounding the problem.
“We knew it was going to be touch and go with it and, to his credit, he jumped back out there for a couple of days,” Jennings said of Yelich, who came off the DL on Tuesday. “So now we just need to let the flare go down.”
Said Yelich: “It’s kind of day-to-day, see how it’s going. I don’t really know what to say or how to explain it.”
▪ Giancarlo Stanton is expected to face live pitching in batting practice for the first time Monday in Jupiter. He could be back in the lineup for the Marlins by the end of next week.
▪ The Marlins on Thursday optioned right-handed reliever Scott McGough to Triple A New Orleans and activated right-hander Andre Rienzo from the 15-day DL.
Friday: Marlins LHP Adam Conley (1-1, 4.88) at Washington Nationals RHP Max Scherzer (11-10, 2.79), 7:05 p.m., Nationals Park.
▪ Saturday: Marlins RHP Tom Koehler (8-12, 3.98) at Washington Nationals RHP Jordan Zimmermann (10-8, 3.54), 7:05 p.m., Nationals Park.