Since he plays for a lousy team, Fernandez is having one of the more anonymous amazing seasons in history. There's been a lot written about all the great young pitchers in baseball this season, and Fernandez is the youngest. He turned 20 only on April 7. His promotion to the Marlins at such a young age, after only one full season in the minors, was a surprise, especially for a team that you'd think would be obsessed with delaying the start of young players' arbitration eligibility clock. He's certainly proved to be up to the task, as he's top 10 in ERA, WHIP, and hits, strikeouts, and home runs per nine innings pitched.
How unusual is that? Really, really unusual. I looked for pitchers 20 or younger who qualified for the ERA title (i.e., at least one inning pitched per game played) with an ERA below 3.00, at least seven strikeouts per nine innings, a WHIP below 1.2, and fewer than one homer per nine innings. This is all I found:
That isn't an encouraging list. Blyleven's in the Hall, but Gooden, Nolan, and Velenzuela all flamed out early with arm injuries. Despite the recent surge of innings and pitch counts, there isn't a lot of evidence that they prevent injury. Let's hope it works
for Fernandez, because despite the anonymity of playing for the Marlins, and the possibility that he'll be the only pitcher on the list with a losing record, he's a rare talent.