As a 20-year-old in 2013, Jose Fernandez stormed the major leagues with one of the most impressive debuts we have ever seen from a pitcher, running away with the National League Rookie of the Year Award and finishing third in the Cy Young voting. In 2014, he became the NL's youngest Opening Day starter since Dwight Gooden in 1986.
Unfortunately, he ended up on the disabled list after just eight starts and was diagnosed with a torn elbow ligament, requiring Tommy John surgery.
The last 13 months have forced Marlins fans to wait impatiently for their young prodigy to return to the mound, but that long hiatus finally reached an end on Thursday, when Fernandez came back with a bang.
Facing the Giants, the 22-year-old homered at the plate and delivered a quality start on the mound, allowing three runs over six innings with six strikeouts and no walks. He is locked in as a top-tier fantasy starter the rest of the way.
Editor's Note: Play one-day fantasy baseball for cash! FanDuel is hosting a $50,000 league for Saturday's MLB games. It's just $5 to join and first place wins $5,000. Starts tonight at 7:15pm ET. Enter now!
* In the same game, Matt Cain made his first start of the 2015 season opposite Fernandez after missing most of the first half with a flexor tendon strain. He didn't look quite so effective, coughing up five runs over five innings while allowing seven hits and four walks. He struck out only two hitters and gave up two home runs, including a rocket by the pitcher Fernandez.
Cain's fastballs in the outing typically registered at 90-91 MPH, which is obviously a far cry from the mid-90s heat he unleashed in his early days but basically in line with his velocity in recent years. We're not worrying too much at this point but he needs to get a couple decent starts under his belt before he can be trusted.
* Miguel Cabrera has been doing his thing this year, leading the American League in batting average and OPS, but he'll now miss time after straining his calf while running the bases on Friday. Tigers manager Brad Ausmus told reporters he was "not optimistic" that Cabrera would avoid the disabled list, and considering that the first baseman needed to be helped off the field after suffering the injury, it would be no surprise if he is out for close to a month.
* Mitch Moreland put on quite the power display in Baltimore this week, delivering back-to-back two-homer games on Monday and Tuesday, and driving in a combined seven runs between the two contests. The Rangers first baseman now has 14 jacks and 43 RBI on the season, putting him on pace to easily shatter his career highs in both categories, and his 886 OPS is 120 points higher than his lifetime mark.
Moreland's tremendous overall numbers have largely been driven by a recent hot streak (nine of his 14 homers have come in his last 25 games) and he still isn't doing much against lefties, so we're not totally convinced that he has turned the corner as a player, but the Rangers – and his fantasy owners – will happily ride out this power surge.
* Texas will take all the home runs that Moreland can muster after sending the immensely powerful Joey Gallo back to the minors on Tuesday. During his short stay in the big leagues, Gallo flashed the pop that has made him an elite prospect, blasting five homers in 25 games, but he also batted just .218 and struck out at an absurd 49 percent rate.
He's just not ready. And that's fine, since he's only 21. It would be no surprise to see Gallo back up later in the year.
* With Gallo back in the minors, the best rookie power hitter in the game is now Miguel Sano, who was called up by the Twins and made his MLB debut on Thursday. Sano has been one of the best sluggers in the minors ever since he signed with Minnesota as a teenager out of the Dominican Republic, and he forced his way into the team's plans by smashing 11 homers with a 1001 OPS at Double-A since the start of May.
Sano plays third base but with Trevor Plouffe entrenched in Minny, he figures to see action almost exclusively at designated hitter. He's likely to strike out a bunch early on but his fantasy appeal is obvious, and his eligibility at shortstop in Yahoo! gives him extra value.
* Giants manager Bruce Bochy said on Thursday that he'd be backing off a bit with his usage of Santiago Casilla after the closer blew his fourth save of the season on Wednesday night, suggesting that the righty may be experiencing some fatigue. Casilla has been quite effective overall and there's no talk of permanently removing him from ninth-inning duties, so his owners need not panic. With that said, Javier Lopez and Sergio Romo could snag a few save opportunities in the next week or two.
* The Rangers designated Neftali Feliz for assignment on Friday, and the 27-year-old former Rookie of the Year is expected to draw plenty of interest on waivers. Feliz has been besieged by injuries in recent years but his talent is undeniable.
* Dylan Bundy made two appearances in the major leagues as a 19-year-old back in 2012. He hasn't made it back since, and it looks like we won't be seeing him again until 2016. The talented righty has been ravaged by injuries over the past three seasons, limiting him to 17 total starts in the minors, and while he appeared to be getting on track in Double-A this year, the Orioles decided this week to shut him down indefinitely due to shoulder soreness.
It's been an incredibly frustrating series of setbacks, but Bundy is still only 22 years old and has continued to look good every time he's managed to get on the mound. There's still plenty of upside there down the line.
* The Padres sent Jedd Gyorko to Triple-A in early June following a brutal first couple months, but recalled the second baseman on Tuesday after he hit .279/.362/.492 with four homers in 16 games during his demotion. San Diego is still on the hook for a big chunk of the $36 million contract they handed Gyorko after his rookie season, so they really need him to find that form again. He has shown very little since the start of 2014.
* Steven Matz was exquisite in his big-league debut for the Mets last Sunday, picking up a win with 7 2/3 shutout innings against the Reds. A former second-round draft pick, Matz was ranked by Baseball America as New York's second-best prospect prior to the season, and he looks like an excellent long-term complement to Matt Harvey and Noah Syndergaard in one of the game's most impressive young rotations.
* George Springer took a 96 MPH Edinson Volquez fastball to the wrist on Wednesday, and it's going to cost him some time. The outfielder is expected to be sidelined 6-8 weeks with a fracture, which is truly unfortunate because Springer had been producing like a mad man in the leadoff spot for Houston. Alex Presley takes his place on the roster, representing an enormous downgrade.
* Apparently not satisfied from a terrific MLB debut in which he hurled six innings of one-run ball against the Astros, Andrew Heaney took it up a notch in his second start against the Yankees, allowing one run on two hits over seven frames. He has looked splendid so far, but his biggest test will come on Tuesday when he faces the Rockies in Colorado. If he can suppress that lineup in that park, he'll make a believer out of me.
* Released by the Braves a couple weeks ago after posting a 7.52 ERA over 15 appearances, Trevor Cahill latched on with the Dodgers on Friday. He'll head to Triple-A and serve as rotation depth. As bad as he's been over the past couple seasons, the former All-Star is still only 27 years old.