You only need one guess who will start Opening Day next year as the ace of the Marlins pitching staff.
With apologies to Jacob Turner, Nathan Eovaldi and Henderson Alvarez, that honor belongs to none other than 21-year-old phenom Jose Fernandez.
Fernandez currently has a 9-5 record with a 2.41 ERA, which currently ranks third in the National League, and has struck out 157 batters, tied for seventh in the NL, in just 145 2/3 innings. Fernandez also hasn't lost a start since July 7 and the Marlins have won 11 of the last 14 times Fernandez has taken the mound.
As if that wasn't enough, Fernandez's 4.7 WAR is currently 11th among all major league pitchers. Yep, you read that right, 11th among all major league pitchers. That means he's having a better season thus far than the likes of Cliff Lee, Bartolo Colon and Justin Verlander. You may have heard of those guys as they have all been Cy Young Award winners.
The world seem to have taken notice as this SportsNation poll in an article written by ESPN.com's David Schoenfield said 60 percent chose Fernandez as the NL's best rookie. Fernandez was selected ahead of Yasiel Puig, Julio Teheran, Shelby Miller and Hyun-Jin Ryu.
Oh, and did we mention Fernandez is 21 and has never pitched above Advanced Single-A Jupiter?
Heck, in Fernandez's previous start Monday against Puig's Dodgers, the Sun-Sentinel's Juan C. Rodriguez penned this opening remark in the Marlins' 6-2 victory.
"Cuban-born rookie sensation Yasiel Puig was a much anticipated guest at Marlins Park. Fellow countryman Jose Fernandez reminded him and everyone else who owns the place."
Before the game, the Miami Herald reported Fernandez stopped for a moment to chat with Puig behind the batting cage during batting practice and the two posed for a couple of photos. What Fernandez probably didn't do was warn him for what he was about to face considering Puig was held hitless in three at-bats against Fernandez, including a three-pitch strikeout on 97-mph fastballs with two on in the fifth.
“I like to compete,” Fernandez told the Miami Herald after the win. “I’m pretty excited how it came out. If you’re not on my team, I’m going to go out there and get you, even if it’s my mom hitting there.”
The only thing possibly holding Fernandez back from the NL Rookie of the Year Award is timing. Before the season, Miami management set a range with the maximum of about 170 innings for Fernandez this season, according to MLB.com. With less than 24 innings left, Fernandez has anywhere from one to four starts remaining. This means his last start can be as early as Saturday against the Colorado Rockies or as late as September 10 against the Atlanta Braves.
If the ballots were due today, though, there's no doubt who would win the NL Rookie of the Year in Redmond's book.
"He's definitely done his job," Redmond told MLB.com. "If I had to pick, I'd pick him [Rookie of the Year], for sure. But he's definitely at a disadvantage when you're talking about the Dodgers and the Marlins. For us, he's definitely our Rookie of the Year."
At the very least, the Marlins should make sure Fernandez get to 10 wins before he reaches his innings limit, as this one scribe predicted seven weeks ago.