Why is Jose Fernandez so exceptional at Marlins Park and so ordinary everywhere else?
It’s the difference, said former major-league pitcher Curt Schilling, between night and day.
Schilling said when he first began his career, “I was horrible in day games.”
As time went on, that changed.
“I finally realized I had to treat a day game like a night game, from a sleeping perspective, from a preparation perspective,” said Schilling, winner of 216 games in the majors. “Eventually, you compete against that. ‘Oh, people don’t think I can pitch on the road?’ ”
Schilling said as long as Fernandez stays healthy, his home-road splits will even out.
“His stuff can win in any park,” Schilling said. “His splits 10 years from now will be dominant splits, and he’ll be fine.”
Fernandez, who has gone 17-1 with a 1.61 ERA at Marlins Park, will take a ho-hum 5-9 road mark and 3.78 ERA into his start on Tuesday against the Mets at Citi Field, where he made his big-league debut in 2013.
“I don’t know how to explain that,” Fernandez said of the stark contrast between his home and road performances. “Maybe this year it’s going to be a little different.”
David Phelps has been a jack-of-all-trades pitcher. Starter. Long reliever.
Now he could be looking at yet another role as a short, late-inning reliever. Marlins manager Don Mattingly said he would like to use Phelps more frequently as a late-inning specialist.
“I would like to be able to kind of stabilize the back end [of the bullpen],” Mattingly said.
The Marlins are overloaded in the bullpen with long relievers and, well, short on short relievers. Mattingly said he would have probably used Phelps in Sunday’s seventh inning — when the Nationals broke through for three runs off of Chris Narveson and Edwin Jackson — if not for the fact Phelps was unavailable after going four innings out of the bullpen two days earlier.
“[Sunday] was kind of his spot, honestly,” Mattingly said Monday. “I’d like to get him to that role where I could kind of have him available more than once in a while.”
The Marlins could have also used left-hander Mike Dunn in Sunday’s seventh inning to face Bryce Harper, who Dunn has had success against. But Dunn is on the disabled list, and Mattingly went with Narveson, who gave up a big double to the reigning National League Most Valuable Player.
Dunn, who is on the 15-day DL with a left forearm strain, threw his first bullpen session in Miami on Sunday. But it could still be a while before he returns to the active roster.
“He would definitely have to kind of work his way back at this point to make sure he’s able to do different things,” Mattingly said. “We haven’t really set a timetable [on his return from the DL].”
For the first time this season, Mattingly wrote out a different lineup on Monday. With the Mets sending out left-hander Steven Matz, Mattingly had Chris Johnson playing first base over Justin Bour, who has struggled against southpaws.
“You’ll probably see a couple of different lineups [during the Mets series],” Mattingly said. “I’m trying to keep the guys on the bench involved. We’ve got to keep them sharp.”
▪ Tuesday: Marlins RHP Jose Fernandez (0-1, 7.94) at New York Mets RHP Noah Syndergaard (1-0, 0.00), 7:10 p.m., Citi Field.
▪ Wednesday: Marlins LHP Adam Conley (0-0, 27.00) at New York Mets RHP Logan Verrett (0-0, 9.00), 1:10 p.m., Citi Field.