Baseball in The District: Aaron Fitt joins to talk Nats prospects
Most athletes these days try to avoid making specific predictions for themselves when it comes to stats, at least to the media. They set statistical goals, they just generally do not share them.
Jose Fernandez of the Marlins, however, does not believe in that. He has made it known that this season he hopes to hold an ERA of 1.95 or better. That's quite an ambitious number to chase.
Fernandez was remarkable last season as one of baseball's breakout stars. He was a bright spot on an otherwise miserable 62-100 Marlins team, going 12-6 with a 2.19 ERA and 187 strikeouts in 172 2/3 innings. To reach 1.95 Fernandez would have to allow .24 less runs per game than he did a year ago.
That's not a huge leap from what he produced last season, and it's not entirely crazy. Fernandez had the second-lowest ERA among starting pitchers in 2013 as Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers held a 1.83. There is a recent precedent.
But beyond Kershaw's Cy Young winning 2013 season, it's been extremely rare to see a pitcher go below 2.00 in recent years. Kershaw's 1.83, in fact, was the lowest for a starter since Pedro Martinez in 2000 (1.74) and the first sub-2.00 mark since Roger Clemens posted a 1.87 in 2005.
That's very, very rare company. Fernandez would do something only those three pitchers have done since 1996: hold an ERA under 2.00 as a starter.
According to MLB.com's Marty Noble, Fernandez' comments took reporters by surprise when he made them. Noticing their skepticism, he replied: "What, you don’t think I can?."
It's not that we don't think you can, Jose, we just think it's a bit of a longshot.