Braves-Marlins Preview

The Associated Press

Miami Marlins fans haven't had much to cheer all season unless Jose Fernandez is pitching.

This is their last chance to see it for quite a while.

With the 21-year-old All-Star near a predetermined innings limit, the Marlins say his final start will come Wednesday night against the Atlanta Braves.

A likely-to-be spirited Miami crowd will include 30 of Fernandez's friends and relatives as the right-hander closes his case for NL Rookie of the Year honors.

"I'm looking at it like, 'I've got to go home already?'" he said. "It flew by."

Fernandez (11-6, 2.23 ERA) leads the majors in opponent batting average (.181) and ranks second in ERA. He has 182 strikeouts - easily the most among rookies - through 165 2-3 innings.

Miami set a 170-inning limit and is sticking to it even though he's remained dominant, not allowing a run in four of his past seven outings while posting a 0.98 ERA. His best performance may have come Friday, surrendering only an infield single in seven innings in a 7-0 win over Washington.

He'll remain with the team despite being relegated to the role of cheerleader.

"Really I was going to ask if I can be a bat boy for some games because I don't imagine myself just sitting in the dugout, I need to do something," Fernandez said. "I'm the guy that's always moving around."

The NL-worst Marlins (53-90) have 30 wins at home, with 12 coming in games Fernandez started. He's 8-0 with a 1.19 ERA in 14 home starts.

"(Jose) brings so much excitement to the ballpark and this team and you can just tell the guys really feed off of that," manager Mike Redmond said.

Fernandez's only loss in his last 10 outings came Aug. 30 in his lone start against the Braves (87-57). A two-run homer to Freddie Freeman was one of three hits he allowed in six innings, striking out eight in the 2-1 defeat.

Fernandez didn't face Evan Gattis, who has posted three straight two-RBI games with two homers, two doubles and a single. Gattis is hitting .414 with 10 RBIs in eight matchups with Miami this year.

It's unclear whether Justin Upton will play after leaving Atlanta's 4-3 win Wednesday with a bruised knee.

B.J. Upton replaced him after being out of the starting lineup for a second straight game along with Dan Uggla. Upton is hitless in 16 straight at-bats, Uggla is in a 5-for-60 slump and Atlanta's two highest-paid players are both batting below .200.

"You've got to go with whatever you think is best to win that day," manager Fredi Gonzalez told the Braves' official website.

Gonzalez will send Mike Minor (13-6, 3.06) to the mound. He has a 1.87 ERA in his last 10 road starts after giving up two runs and striking out nine in seven innings of a 2-1 loss at Philadelphia on Friday.

The left-hander has given up four runs in each of his three home starts against the Marlins this year, but he's yielded one run in 13 innings at Miami while going 1-0. He has a 1.50 ERA in his last four outings there.

Justin Ruggiano is 6 for 13 with two homers off Minor this season, and Giancarlo Stanton's three hits in 16 career at-bats against him were all home runs. Stanton had an RBI double Tuesday after missing two games with a sore ankle.

The Braves have won the first two of this four-game set and are 21-5 at Miami since the start of 2011.

What to Read Next