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Marlins expect Jose Fernandez to have season-ending elbow surgery

Big League Stew
Miami Marlins starting pitcher Jose Fernandez works the first inning against the San Diego Padres during a baseball game on Friday, May 9, 2014, in San Diego

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Miami Marlins starting pitcher Jose Fernandez works the first inning against the San Diego Padres during a baseball game on Friday, May 9, 2014, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

Not another one. Not this one. Not Jose Fernandez, the best young pitcher in Major League Baseball.

Juan C. Rodriguez of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports the Miami Marlins' worst fears have been realized: Right-hander Jose Fernandez has a torn elbow ligament, and they expect him to have Tommy John surgery to fix the damage. Recovery time is typically a year.

Results of an MRI performed Monday on Fernandez in Los Angeles haven't been released, but the early signs were discouraging: Marlins manager Mike Redmond says Fernandez has a sprained right elbow. A sprain of any kind is a tear, and a torn ulnar collateral ligament usually means Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery. If he goes under the knife, Fernandez would be at least the 34th player in the majors and minors to have Tommy John since Feb. 18.

Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reported first that Fernandez's elbow was injured.

Fernandez told the Marlins he was feeling discomfort Friday during his most recent start against the Padres. His velocity showed a noticeable drop as that game continued, going from 96.2 mph in the fourth inning to 90.0 in the fifth and 91.2 the sixth. He also threw up in the dugout, reportedly, before the game.

It's a terrible injury for any player, but the loss of Fernandez would be a huge blow to the improving Marlins, who came in 20-18 and in second place in the NL East after losing an average of 94 games the past three seasons. Losing Fernandez also continues an alarming trend that's becoming all too common in the majors: unhealthy elbow. Still, an injury to the elbow can be repaired more easily than one to the shoulder, history has shown.

In addition to the players currently recovering from Tommy John, Fernandez would join Matt Harvey of the Mets and Stephen Strasburg of the Nationals as elite young arms of the moment who have had the surgery early in their careers since 2010.

Fernandez doesn't turn 22 until July 31, but he's already demonstrated that he's at least as good as any pitcher throwing currently. Fernandez leads the National League in strikeouts and has posted 2.44 ERA in eight starts so far. Through his first 36 starts in the majors, Fernandez is 16-8 with a 2.44 ERA and 257 strikeouts in 224 1/3 innings. As a rookie, he led the NL in fewest hits allowed per nine innings.

Other than Clayton Kershaw, it's hard to say there's another pitcher in the majors a team would rather start with than Fernandez.

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David Brown is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rdbrown@yahoo-inc.com and follow him on Twitter!

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