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Marlins to skip Jose Fernandez’s start on Sunday

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Sunday’s much-anticipated duel between Marlins ace Jose Fernandez and White Sox ace Chris Sale has been nixed. The Marlins, in an effort to limit Fernandez’s innings this season, will skip Fernandez’s turn in the rotation. Tom Koehler will start on Sunday and oppose Sale instead.

Fernandez, 24, underwent Tommy John surgery and didn’t return until July last year. The Marlins are hoping to limit Fernandez to 180-90 innings this season. He’s already at 137 2/3 with a 12-6 record, a 2.81 ERA and a 198/41 K/BB ratio.

Fernandez’s current K/9 rate of 12.94 would be the third-best in baseball history — among starters who qualified for the ERA title — behind Randy Johnson in 2001 (13.41) and Pedro Martinez in 1999 (13.20). Both Johnson and Martinez won the Cy Young Award in their respective seasons.

Nationals to reinstate Max Scherzer on Thursday

Max Scherzer
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Some good news for the Nationals today: All-Star hurler Max Scherzer is due back from the injured list this week, this time (hopefully) for good. He’s slated to start during Thursday’s series finale against the Pirates.

It’s been a long road back for the right-hander, who earned his seventh consecutive All-Star designation after heading into the break with a 2.30 ERA, 5.6 fWAR, and a league-leading 7.56 SO/BB rate. An untimely back injury forced him to the injured list in the days leading up to the All-Star Game, however, and he hasn’t returned in any kind of part-time or full-time capacity since.

While Scherzer was originally expected to pitch for the Nationals sometime during their weekend series versus the Brewers, manager Dave Martinez elected to push back his return date by a few days. It’s not clear whether he felt some lingering pain during his 64-pitch simulated start on Saturday or whether the Nationals simply want to play it safe with their ace, but either way, the club apparently feels like Scherzer will be back to full strength before the end of the week.

If so, his return would be a significant asset to the Nationals, who could use a sub-3.00 ERA, 5.0-fWAR starter to help bolster their standing in the NL East. Still, there’s no guarantee that the veteran righty is ready to shoulder a full-time role in Washington’s rotation, nor is it certain that he’ll be able to match his results from the first half of the season. In one start between IL stints last month, he dealt five innings of three-run, two-walk, eight-strikeout ball in an 8-7 loss to the Rockies.