2016 stats: 8-6, 3.85 ERA, 133.1 IP, 9 Quality Starts, 1.40 WHIP, 8.4 K/9, 1.4 WAR
Miami’s rotation was far from set heading into Spring Training 2016, with ace Jose Fernandez, free agent signing Wei-Yin Chen, and the dependable Tom Koehler the only starters who were seemingly guaranteed a place on the Opening Day roster, barring any injuries.
The battle to round out the starting pitching contingent was between Adam Conley, Jarred Cosart, Justin Nicolino and Edwin Jackson. By posting a 1.86 ERA and a 0.83 WHIP over 9.2 spring innings, Conley earned the nod alongside Cosart to make his first Opening Day Roster.
Conley’s season got off to a rough start as he gave up three runs in the first inning of a rain-affected game in Washington, but he rebounded nicely in his next start by throwing six shutout innings and striking out nine Mets in a no decision.
Although eight shutout innings against the Braves in late June was statistically Adam Conley’s best start of the season, the most impressive outing by the young lefty was 7.2 no-hit innings in Milwaukee, when he was controversially lifted after surpassing 100 pitches.
After a mediocre May, Conley built on a string of better appearances in June to post a sizzling month of July, going 3-0 with a 1.82 ERA and three quality starts in five trips to the mound.
Injury troubles then hit as he was forced to miss six weeks because of tendinitis in his pitching hand sustained by celebrating a little too excessively in the dugout at Wrigley Field at the start of August.
Nevertheless, Conley was Miami’s best starting pitcher during the 2016 season besides Jose Fernandez, although David Phelps, who excelled as a starter while filling-in for Chen in the rotation, deserves a mention as well.
If the Marlins fail to acquire a front-line starter or two this winter, Wei-Yin Chen will most likely be seen as the ace of the organization. However, the fate of this team in 2017 will be very dependent on the continued growth and dependability of Adam Conley.
Conley will have to turn from a pleasant surprise into a sure bet next season for the Marlins to take a step forward in the standings. As it stands, Miami only has three pitchers on their roster who have a record of success in the majors, with Conley being one of them after this season. As a result, the pressure is on for Conley to raise his game further to help carry this rotation next year.