Jose Fernandez is taking a break. He won’t pitch again until next Friday.
But in resting Fernandez now, the Marlins will have him available for the games that really matter. By skipping Fernandez’s next start, Fernandez will now be in position to start the final game of the season or the winner-take-all National League wild-card game if that’s where the team winds up.
“It’s unfortunate because I do want to pitch, and I do feel great,” Fernandez said of skipping his next scheduled start on Sunday. “But since I got the [Tommy John] surgery, I always understood why. There was always an explanation behind it.”
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In what is Fernandez’s first full season since undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2014, the Marlins are taking precautions to ensure he gets through this season healthy and can pitch in the postseason if the Marlins make it that far.
They also skipped one of his starts before the All-Star break.
Fernandez is on pace to finish with 31 starts and about 185 innings, which was the plan outlined before the season.
“We haven’t changed any part of the plan at any point,” Fernandez said. “I think we’re like two or three innings over [the projected pace]. It’s perfect.”
Manager Don Mattingly said having a plan in place also prevents outside criticism and pressure.
“You [can] put guys in bad spots,” Mattingly said. “They’re running out of innings in a pennant race and now everybody wants him to pitch. [The player] wants to pitch. And they’re a bad guy if they don’t.”
BOUR MIGHT BE OUT UNTIL SEPTEMBER
Mattingly said he is now operating on the assumption that injured first baseman Justin Bour won’t be ready to play again until after Sept. 1. Bour, who sustained a high ankle sprain on July 2, has been slow to make his way back as he incurs one setback after another.
“I don’t know what’s happened, but it’s not getting better,” Mattingly said. “It’s like one thing has led to another. We just haven’t been able to progress. We’re looking at September call-up on this.”
The Marlins thought Bour would be ready to come off the disabled list more than a week ago and sent him to Triple A New Orleans to play in rehab games.
“It’s beyond frustrating,” Bour said. “Coming into it, I didn’t think I was going to be out very long at all. I’m just not ready to go quite yet. But I’m doing everything I can.”
Bour is taking batting practice and fielding ground balls hit directly to him.
“Ankle sprains are a totally different monster,” Bour said. “They say six to eight weeks (for a normal recovery period). I’m a little bit over four weeks right now. The only positive I can think of is I’m ahead of that schedule. But each day feels like an eternity to make, not being able to be out there, not being able to help the team.”
▪ The Marlins could also receive September bullpen reinforcements in the form of right-hander Bryan Morris. On Friday, Morris threw his second bullpen session since undergoing surgery on his back in early June to repair a herniated disc.
“I can honestly say that today’s bullpen for me — physically and mentally — was the best I’ve had in probably two years,” Morris said.
Morris said he’ll likely throw three more bullpen sessions before pitching in his first minor-league rehab game.
▪ Marlins left-hander Cody Ege was claimed off waivers on Friday by the Los Angeles Angels.
▪ Saturday: Marlins LHP Adam Conley (8-6, 3.70 ERA) vs. Chicago White Sox RHP James Shields (5-14, 5.43), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.
▪ Sunday: Marlins RHP Tom Koehler (9-8, 3.83) vs. White Sox LHP Chris Sale (14-5, 3.16), 1:10 p.m., Marlins Park.