As we are all aware, Jose Fernandez lost his life in a boating accident on the early morning of September 25, along with two of his closest friends. The 24-year-old was one of the game’s brightest young stars, and arguably the most dominant starting pitcher. After winning the 2013 National League Rookie of the Year Award, his potential was through the roof, and he finally seemed like he was reaching said potential. But days after his death, with the 2016 season coming to a close, what does the Miami Marlins future look like?
The Marlins are a young team still looking for an identity. They have a lot of young talent and a tremendous amount of potential. Players like Giancarlo Stanton, Dee Gordon, Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna, and Justin Bour are all in their twenties and still have their whole careers ahead of them. Miami just signed Martin Prado to an extension, giving them some veteran presence along with Ichiro Suzuki, but who knows how much longer he will play, given his age. They have already improved upon their 2015 season, winning seven more games with a little less than a week of the season left to go. They even contended for a playoff spot for a while before eventually falling out of the race.
But their problem has been their starting pitching, and Fernandez seemed to be the answer. He loved Miami, loved the Marlins, and loved his teammates. He seemed like a sure lock for a multi-year contract. Plus, he was practically unbeatable at home, posting a 29-2 record with a 1.49 ERA over 42 career starts. Talk about dominant. But where does his loss leave their staff?
Adam Conley has shown signs of dominance, but will now be looked upon as the ace of the Marlins staff, followed by Wei-Yin Chen, Andrew Cashner, Tom Koehler, and Jose Urena. Conley’s 3.85 ERA is the only one below 4.00, and Koehler’s 4.15 is the only other below 5.00. The Marlins entire pitching staff, which consists of all 31 guys to have thrown a pitch for the Marlins this year, has generated a WAR of 9.9. Fernandez accounted for 4.3 of the 9.9, which was the highest on the Marlins team, including position players.
So where do they go from here? The Marlins’ future certainly looked bright with their young star pitcher, but obviously Jose’s loss sets them back. They will never have another arm like his, regardless of the young talent they have in the minors, which they are stocked with some quality and explosive arms. But you’ll never be able to replace Jose Fernandez. He was something special, and he had the potential to be one of the best the game has ever seen. As unfortunate as it is, the Marlins bright future looks dim now. Without their beloved ace pitcher, they don’t have the tools to compete with some of the teams not only in the National League East, but the rest of Major League Baseball. After taking what seemed like a step forward in 2016, all of their progress was lost, and it’s back to the drawing boards for Miami as they look to fulfill the impossible task of first healing, and then rebuilding their team.