The Miami Marlins have a "tentative game plan" to put ace starting pitcher Jose Fernandez on an innings limit for the upcoming season, which the team "will review with Jose in spring training,” according to president of baseball operations Michael Hill, per Jon Morosi of Fox Sports.
“There’s going to be a range (of innings) discussed with the team and the doctors involved,” Fernandez's agent, Scott Boras, told Morosi.
The 2016 season will be Fernandez's first full campaign since undergoing Tommy John surgery in May 2014.
According to Morosi, "The Marlins, according to one source, will be reluctant to place a hard cap on Fernandez before the season, preferring to agree on a range that could be scaled based on the number of stressful innings encountered during the year."
Based on Matt Harvey's experience with the New York Mets in 2015, his first full season back from the same surgery, Morosi speculated Fernandez could be looking at about 180 innings of work.
Fernandez, 23, appeared in just 11 games in 2015, finishing 6-1 with a 2.92 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 79 strikeouts in just 64.2 innings pitched. In his three seasons in the big leagues—two of which have been hampered by injury—Fernandez has established himself as one of the top young pitchers in baseball.
But he also missed an additional month last season after suffering a right biceps strain, so it's hard to blame the Marlins for wanting to be cautious with their young ace.
On the other hand, the Marlins signed Wei-Yin Chen this offseason to bolster the top of the rotation—an indication the organization believes it can compete for an NL East title—so finding the right balance between caution and ambition will be key for the Marlins and Fernandez as they monitor his innings count.
You can follow Timothy Rapp on Twitter.