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Jose Fernandez continues home dominance

Jose Fernandez
Photo by Mike Ehrmann

Miami Marlins ace Jose Fernandez is the king of the Blood Diamond, also known as Marlins Park. The 21-year-old right hander has a perfect 12-0 career home record and his dominance over the Atlanta Braves continued in their 9-0 shutout victory on Tuesday night.

Fernandez recorded eight strikeouts in eight shutout innings with Carlos Marmol closing the door in the ninth. This season, Fernandez has 22 strikeouts and zero earned runs in 16 shutout innings against the Braves.

Fernandez dominates his opponents with a fastball that ranges from 97-100 mph and a slider that’s both deceptive and deadly. It’s like the Braves are facing Cincinnati Reds electric Cuban closer Aroldis Chapman for eight innings.

“From the right side,” said Braves third baseman Chris Johnson. “He doesn’t throw 104 [mph] like Chapman but 99 is just the same.”

“Out of hand, it looks like it is right at you,” Braves catcher Evan Gattis said about Fernandez’s slider. “You have to respect that he throws 100. It’s hard to swing the bat at. He’s got a good finish on his slider.”

“Jose is not quite there yet, but he’ll lead you to believe that he can throw 100,” said Marlins infielder Ed Lucas (who went 3 for 4 including an RBI in his season debut) on the comparison between the two Cuban hurlers. “But the combination of the fastball, breaking ball and command, I don’t know if anybody has as good of stuff.”

In his rookie year, Fernandez had to work with Jeff Mathis and fellow rookie Rob Brantley. This year, he has World Series champion catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia working behind the plate and Fernandez’s unwavering trust in him has led to Cy Young like success.

“I told Salty, ‘whatever you put down, I’ll throw,’” Fernandez said.

This season, Fernandez is 4-1 with a 1.59 ERA and leads baseball with 55 strikeouts in 39.2 innings. His ability to rack up a high strikeout total while lasting long in the game makes him one of the best pitchers in baseball. His youth, passion and top-notch physical condition puts him above the rest.

He’s energetic, he’s gonna work fast, he’s gonna be up-tempo, he’s young and his arm feels good all the time,” Braves left fielder Justin Upton said.

On Tuesday, Fernandez attracted 21,992 to Marlins Park. That’s the highest mid-week attendance total for the Marlins this season, with the exception of Opening Day. His next start is projected to be against fellow Cuban star Yasil Puig and the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday. Expect a packed house for that matchup.

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