Two years after TJ, Fernandez is NL POW

Marlins righty went 2-0 with a 0.64 ERA and 22 K's last week

Two years after TJ, Fernandez is NL POW

PHILADELPHIA -- To fully understand how far Jose Fernandez has come, consider where he was exactly two years ago.

On May 16, 2014, Fernandez underwent Tommy John surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right elbow. On the second anniversary of his procedure, the Marlins' ace was named National League Player of the Week.

The hard-throwing 23-year-old is finally hitting his stride. Last week, he went 2-0 with a 0.64 ERA and 22 strikeouts, the most of any pitcher during the seven-day span.

Fernandez strikes out 11

After receiving the news, Fernandez made a point Monday afternoon to reach out to catchers J.T. Realmuto and Jeff Mathis.

"The first thing I did when I got in here and got my work done was find J.T.," Fernandez said. "He's been great. We're communicating really well. J.T. and Mathis, both of them, are a big part of the results we're accomplishing."

Fernandez, the 2013 National League Rookie of the Year, has been a Player of the Week four times.

Also on Monday, Fernandez reached out to Dr. Neal ElAttrache, the Los Angeles-based orthopedic surgeon, who performed the Tommy John surgery 24 months ago in California.

"We keep in communication," Fernandez said. "We talk a lot. After every start, I send him a text. Everything feels great. I'm working hard, following the plan."

When Fernandez pitched at Dodger Stadium in late April, ElAttrache was at the game.

"My therapist, my doctor, I can't thank them enough," Fernandez said. "Every time I see them, I tell them. I've made a couple of calls already today and said, 'I'm here because of you guys. You guys got me back.' There is no way I can ever thank them for that."

Fernandez's hot week improved his record to 5-2 with a 3.21 ERA, including 69 strikeouts in 47 2/3 innings.

"It looks like he's getting on track to what we all expected," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "Obviously, good for him, and good for us when he starts pitching like that and has those kind of outings."

Fernandez threw a career-high 117 pitches on Sunday in a 5-1 win in Washington.

"The number wasn't really something I was concerned about," Mattingly said. "What we saw yesterday was no tough innings. There was no getting to second and third and having to pitch his way out of it. He was pretty clean and smooth all game long."

A sign that Fernandez is maturing as a player is the fact he isn't lobbying as much to stay in games.

"That's Donnie's decision," the right-hander said. "Back in the day, I'd probably try to fight to go back out. Right now, he asks me how I feel. I say, 'I'm great.' But it's up to him. I respect his decision all the time. I'm here for the best of the team."

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.