Keri: Why it’s hard to get too excited about Jose Fernandez’s return

From Jonah Keri at Grantland on July 1, 2015:

July 2, 2015, is almost upon us. To the believers, this is the blessed day when Jose Fernandez will return to grace us with his pitching greatness, and all will be right in the universe.

At least, that’s the hope.

The star pitcher returning from Tommy John surgery has become an all-too-common occurrence — an occasion filled with a strange combination of giddy anticipation and fear. When Mets fans watched Matt Harvey toe the rubber in April after a year and a half of rehab, they didn’t know whether to cheer, hold their breath, or figure out a way to do both. Marlins fans will likely feel the same way tomorrow.

As a rookie in 2013, Fernandez lit the league on fire. Then only 20, he went 12-6 with a 2.19 ERA, 2.73 FIP, and 187 strikeouts in 172.2 innings, deservedly winning the Rookie of the Year award in a packed freshman class that included Yasiel Puig. The Marlins shut him down early to preserve his innings count and (hopefully) his arm. And why wouldn’t they? If Dwight Gooden’s absurd 1985 season is the standard-bearer for best performance ever by a 20-year-old pitcher, Fernandez was on the short list for second-best.

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Originally published: July 1, 2015. Last Updated: July 1, 2015.