Sequels rarely live up to the original, but tonight in Miami, two of baseball’s brightest young arms will look to recreate the gems they each threw just seven days ago.
All youngsters Jose Fernandez and Alex Wood did last week at Turner Field in Atlanta was combine for 25 strikeouts in a pitcher’s duel for the ages, which resulted in the Miami Marlins topping the Bravos 1-0.
That night’s loss was the second in a row for Wood, who had also lost 1-0 in his previous start in Philadelphia.
That night was special. Not only did it showcase two big-time arms who will hopefully be battling it out in the division for years to come, but it was a night of career highs for both Fernandez and Wood who struck out 14 and 11 hitters respectively. Combining the 25 K’s recorded by the starters with those accumulated by relievers David Carpenter and Steve Cishek, the Braves and Marlins combined to strike out 28 batters, which was the most by two teams without issuing a walk since 1900, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Entering tonight’s round two, Wood currently ranks 7th in the NL in ERA at 1.54, while Fernandez sits 10th at 1.99. Although the accolades are nice, Wood has fallen on some bad luck as his 2-3 record would indicate. Aside from the back-to-back 1-0 losses, Wood was also beat 2-1 by the Washington Nationals on April 6 after giving up only the two runs in 7 innings of work. Nevertheless, Wood has only given up 6 earned runs and 27 hits in his first 35 innings of the year, while Fernandez has been dealing to a 3-1 record a midst giving up 7 earned runs and only 23 hits in his first 31.2 innings of work in 2014.
Although Fernandez came into 2014 as an already established star fresh off a Rookie of the Year campaign, Wood has opened a lot of eyes outside of Atlanta so far this year with his stellar work as part of an over-achieving Braves rotation. Just two years removed from pitching at the University of Georgia, Wood accumulated 77.2 IP in 2013 while being used primarily as a reliever and spot starter.
Since breaking onto the MLB scene last April, Fernandez has pitched to a 15-7 record with a 2.16 over 204.1 IP in 33 starts, and his home stats are even more jaw-dropping. In 18 starts at Marlin’s Park during his young career, Fernandez has owned the building with an 11-0 record with a 1.07 ERA over 117.2 IP, and has struck out 135 batters in the process while only giving up 68 hits and 14 earned runs.
Tonight’s match-up might not live up to the hype given the masterpiece the duo provided us with last week, but it’ll be a real treat if they give us another game indicative of what the rivalry could look like for years to come.