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How Jose Fernandez’s tragic death could affect NL Cy Young race

Jose Fernandez pitches to the Cubs' Dexter Fowler at Wrigley Field in August.

PITTSBURGH – Could Jose Fernandez win the Cy Young Award posthumously?

In the emotional aftermath of the young Marlins pitcher’s tragic death over the weekend, a public discussion has begun over the possible impact on the National League Cy Young race.

ESPN’s Buster Olney went so far Tuesday as to suggest Fernandez could win over such frontrunners as the Nationals’ Max Scherzer and the Cubs’ Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks, in part because of the weight of the moment as voters fill out five-man ballots that must be submitted in less than a week.

The voting panel is made up of two writers from each of the 15 cities in the league.

“It means nothing, I can tell you that, to Lester or me, over the life he lived,” Hendricks said. “Just thinking about him as a person and his life is really where we’re all at. The NL Cy Young and those things – it really means nothing at the end of the day.”

Fernandez, 24, was one of three men killed when the pitcher’s boat crashed into a jetty near Miami early Sunday morning.

“Obviously, everybody’s very emotional right now,” Lester said Tuesday. “He’s one of our baseball brothers that was unfortunately taken way too soon in his career, and his life, and his family’s life. … One night, an accident, and he’s gone.”

Fernandez, who likely would have made two more starts this season, is deserving of Cy Young consideration regardless of any added voter sentiment. He was 16-8 with a 2.86 ERA, 253 strikeouts and the major-league pitching leader in WAR on Fangraphs.com (he doesn’t make the top 10 in that category on Baseball-reference.com).

“Whoever wins that award I’m sure is very deserving,” Lester said. “If they vote for him, and he wins it, he’s very deserving of it. If they vote for Scherzer or Kyle or me, or whatever – I would imagine the voters take those votes very seriously and weigh all their options. I don’t think anybody that is up there on the No. 1 spot is anything but deserving of it.”

Soler still sore

Jorge Soler, who left a game more than a week ago because of soreness in his right side, remains bothered enough by the issue that he stayed back in Chicago for a second MRI this week. He has played in two games (0-for-4 with a walk) since leaving that game Sept. 17.

The MRI results showed “no abnormalities,” the team said, and Soler is expected to rejoin the team during the final road trip of the season this week.

Maddon said the club’s not concerned about Soler’s fitness for the playoffs. Game 1 of the National League Division Series is Oct. 7.

K-ching

As of Tuesday afternoon, third baseman Kris Bryant still had not paid off teammate Chris Coghlan for reaching base Monday night to eventually become Bryant’s 100th RBI (on a two-run homer).

“But I still will,” said Bryant, who promised Coghlan before Monday’s game all the money in Bryant’s wallet if he became Bryant’s desperately sought 100th RBI – and Tuesday said he’ll give him all of his team meal money for the seven-game road trip (over $600).

Why such a big deal? Bryant finished last season with 99 and didn’t want to do it again.

And, besides, he said, “RBIs are my favorite stat.”