Today is the day: Marlins ace Jose Fernandez returns from Tommy John surgery

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Marlins ace and 22-year-old phenom Jose Fernandez will complete his comeback from Tommy John elbow surgery this afternoon against the Giants, returning to the rotation following 13 months on the sidelines.

Fernandez had an underwhelming final minor-league rehab start at Double-A on June 27, but overall in five rehab starts he struck out 33 batters in 24 innings and worked in the mid-90s with his fastball to show his pre-surgery velocity is still there.

Expecting him to pick up right where he left off in mid-2013 is unrealistic, in part because Fernandez will likely be on limited pitch counts and could struggle with his command at times and in part because he was insanely good before the injury. Fernandez made 36 starts through age 21, posting a 2.25 ERA and 257 strikeouts in 224 innings.

And even after missing more than a year he returns to the Marlins’ rotation one month before his 23rd birthday.