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Ace-off: Minor faces Fernandez in Miami

Jose Fernandez's rookie season started with five relatively anonymous innings on April 7 against the Mets.

On Wednesday night, it will conclude with the 21-year-old right-hander's final opportunity to showcase his electric stuff at Marlins Park, where he has been nothing short of dominant all season, having swept up the baseball world in his high-energy, freewheeling bid for National League Rookie of the Year and Cy Young Award honors.

With an eye toward the future of the franchise, the Marlins are shutting Fernandez down following Wednesday's start against the first-place Braves, capping a breakout year that was originally scheduled to begin in Miami's Minor League system.

While the team originally set an innings maximum of 170 innings before the season began, Marlins manager Mike Redmond intends to give Fernandez, who sits at 165 2/3 innings on the year, a long leash in his final start. Fernandez will also be pitching with the added adrenaline rush of having roughly 30 family members and friends at the game.

"For sure, I'm going to give it everything I've got," Fernandez said on Tuesday. "I'm not going to hold back anything, like I have 10 more starts. I'm going to give everything I've got, like I do always. It's really important trying to get a win."

Fernandez's 2.23 ERA in 27 starts trails only Clayton Kershaw, and the .516 OPS he has held opposing hitters to is the lowest in baseball among qualified starters by a comfortable margin. Since the beginning of June, Fernandez has been even better than his season totals, posting a 1.51 ERA and .445 opponents' OPS in 17 starts.

At the All-Star Game, a national audience witnessed what the Marlins and their opponents had seen all season long, as Fernandez retired Dustin Pedroia, Miguel Cabrera and Chris Davis on 13 pitches in a perfect sixth inning.

Before Tuesday's game, Redmond discussed his plan to allow his young ace to let loose in his final start of the year, with a nod to the inexact science of nurturing young pitchers.

"I think you have a lot of different thoughts on this subject, pitch count," Redmond said. "There are guys who think you should go out there and throw as many pitches as you can throw. And there are other guys who think you should limit their pitches and you will get the most out of them if you limit their innings.

"I think the beauty of it is, there is no exact science of it. There are guys who are protected, and they blow out. And there are guys who pitch all the time and blow out."

With an 8-0 record and a 1.19 ERA in 14 home starts, Fernandez is the only rookie since 1921 with a minimum of 12 starts to be undefeated at home. For one final night this season, the Marlins will hope to capitalize on his thrilling potential in front of their home fans.

Braves: Freeman among few to crack Fernandez
• In his past eight starts, Fernandez has given up only one home run, a two-run shot off the bat of Freddie Freeman in the Braves' 2-1 victory over the Marlins on Aug. 30. Freeman's success has extended to all Miami pitchers this season. With two hits on Tuesday, Freeman improved his batting average against the Marlins to .360 (18-for-50).

• Wednesday's starter Mike Minor is coming off a tough loss at the hands of Cliff Lee and the Phillies last Friday, when he allowed just four hits and struck out nine, but allowed the decisive two-run homer to Cody Asche in the seventh inning. Minor has now lasted at least seven innings in eight of his last 10 starts.

"I came out there and was attacking all the hitters," Minor said after the loss. "I had all my pitches and kind of just brain lapsed [on Asche] and went after him again. I threw one over the middle of the plate. I guess you could say I had one mistake tonight, but the reality is I had more than one. They just didn't capitalize on it."

Marlins: Fernandez's numbers well ahead of D-Train
• Fernandez has put himself squarely in contention to join Dontrelle Willis as the only other Marlins pitcher to be named Rookie of the Year. Willis accomplished the feat a decade ago, finishing the 2003 season with a 14-6 record and 3.30 ERA in 27 starts and 160 2/3 innings after being called up in early May.

• On the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the Marlins will celebrate First Responders Appreciation Night on Wednesday to benefit the Police Officers Assistance Trust and the South Florida Council of Firefighters. Fans can show support for the first responders by purchasing a Special Event ticket. The package includes access to a pregame party in West Plaza from 5-7 p.m. and a ticket to the game in one of the "Super Heroes" sections. First Responders will be honored in a pregame ceremony.

In addition, first baseman Logan Morrison will visit the City of Miami Firehouse Station No. 5 on Wednesday morning, and the Miami Marlins Ayudan team, led by Baseball Operations President Larry Beinfest, will engage in a community service project at the Salvation Army.

• Giancarlo Stanton returned to the lineup on Tuesday after getting two days off to rest a sore right ankle, finishing 1-for-3 with a walk and an RBI double.

Worth noting
• The Marlins shuffled their rotation for this weekend's series against the Mets. Left-hander Brian Flynn will start Friday's series opener instead of Jacob Turner, who will receive a couple extra days of rest before starting on Sunday afternoon. Henderson Alvarez and Brad Hand will start the two legs of Saturday's doubleheader.

• Braves left fielder Evan Gattis has driven in six of the Braves' 11 runs in the past three games.

• Braves right fielder Justin Upton left Tuesday's game with a right knee bruise after fouling a ball off his leg in the top of the fourth inning and was replaced by B.J. Upton. The team announced Justin Upton's status as day-to-day.

• The Braves' magic number to clinch the NL East is seven.

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