MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro reports that the Marlins are planning to shut down rookie phenom Jose Fernandez after he makes his next two starts spanning 12 innings or fewer. The 20-year-old Fernandez was the tough-luck loser last night against the Braves, earning a loss despite allowing two runs over six innings of work while striking out eight.
Manager Mike Redmond told the press that Fernandez will not pitch on the road. As a result, his scheduled start against the Cubs on Wednesday has been pushed back to Friday against the Nationals.
More from Redmond on the innings limit:
“That was the range as an organization that we felt comfortable leaving him around, 150-170, depending on how many starts he did,” Redmond said. “It was kind of the unknown at the beginning of the season, how he would do, and how he would perform. We were looking at ways to protect him, based on how many innings he had gone before. That’s the number we came up with.”
Overall, Fernandez is 10-6 with a 2.33 ERA in 158.2 innings this season. He is just behind Matt Harvey for the league lead in strikeout rate, trailing the Mets right-hander 27.7 percent to 25.5 percent. Fernandez’s biggest competition for the National League Rookie of the Year award is Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig.
The Red Sox signed catcher Christian Vazquez to a three-year, $13.55 million extension, per a team announcement on Saturday. The agreement will keep Vazquez under contract through the 2021 season and covers two years of arbitration eligibility and the catcher’s first year of free agency. It comes with a $7 million club option (and $250,000 buyout) for 2022 that could get bumped up to $8 million if he reaches 502 plate appearances in both 2020 and 2021. Vazquez has also volunteered to make an annual donation to the Red Sox Foundation as part of his new arrangement with the club.
The 27-year-old backstop is entering his fourth year with the Red Sox in 2018. He’s been a steady defender behind the dish over the last three years and was ranked fifth-best in defense among all American League catchers at the end of the 2017 season. He also enjoyed a breakout performance at the plate, slashing a career-best .290/.330/.404 with five home runs and a .735 OPS in 345 plate appearances.
Come Opening Day, Vazquez is expected to be the Red Sox’ primary option behind the plate, with veteran Sandy Leon and Blake Swihart poised to start in backup roles. Swihart is out of options, but has been groomed for a utility role this spring and could take a few reps in the left field and the infield corners if need be, as it doesn’t appear the club is prepared to trade him just yet.