ATLANTA -- If Jose Fernandez receives this weekend or the next the phone call many in South Florida are hoping for, he will become only the fifth pitcher in major league history to pitch in an all-star game before his 21st birthday.
As 20-year-old rookies go, the Marlins right-hander -- of late -- has certainly shown all-star worthy pitching material.
In his last three starts, Fernandez has gone 2-1, posted a 1.67 ERA and a 0.93 WHIP. He has also trimmed his walks-per-nine-innings from a 3.6 rate in April and May, to a 3.1 clip in June and July.
"He should be [an all-star]," Fernandez's manager, Mike Redmond, said Tuesday before the start of the Marlins' three-game series with the Braves. "He's been consistent. He's pitched well. It just depends on what do they need [on the NL roster]; if they need another starter or what."
After his 10-strikeout effort in a 4-0 win over the Padres on Monday, Fernandez is sporting a 5-4 overall record this season. He also has 94 strikeouts in 92 2/3 innings. Those include his two 10-strikeout performances that have come in his last four starts.
Fernandez's early performances had Redmond, a former Marlins player, reminiscing about another one-time rookie pitching sensation.
"I think back to Dontrelle," Redmond said, remembering Dontrelle Willis' eight straight wins near the start of the 2003 season.
The Elias Sports Bureau said Tuesday that Fernandez's 10-strikeout, two-hit, one-walk outing in Monday's win put him in a rather elite group. Joining Dwight Gooden (1984) and Kerry Wood (1998), Fernandez is one of three pitchers under 21 to have had the aforementioned single-game pitching line in baseball history.
Part of the challenge Redmond and his coaching staff faces with Fernandez is helping the young pitcher realize that he has veteran stuff.
"There's times when he pitches like he's 25. There's times when he pitches like he's 20," Redmond said. "That's the beauty of this game."
Redmond said Fernandez knows exactly when he's pitching to his age. At those times, according to Redmond, he's able to say, "I'm probably trying to overdo it a bit. I'm overthrowing. I'm trying to be too nasty."
Fernandez, right now, doesn't need to try to hard to be too nasty. According to ESPN Stats and Information, 75 of his 100 pitches in Monday's win were fastballs. On those, he averaged 95.1 mph, topping out at 97.
"The guy has the ability to be the face of our franchise," Redmond said. "He's a guy who's 20 years old, coming to the big leagues and dominating. He's been so good for us. ... You look at his story and what he's been able to do, he's a great story. He's a guy who, he's got the ability to be the No. 1 pitcher here for a long time."