This is the start from Adam Conley that Marlin's fans hope is norm in the coming years.
Conley went eight innings strong, throwing 114 pitches, 78 of those for strikes, punching out four batters. The most important statistic from the start was the five baserunners he allowed all day, only one of those coming on a walk. When Conley walks one batter or fewer in a start he has allowed 15 earned runs (8 GS). When walking two or more batters, which Conley has done in his seven other starts, he has allowed 18 earned runs.
While I will always favor the start in which the Marlin's lefty has better command, it is valuable to realize that he has the ability to succeed even in starts where he might be off a little bit in the control department. The combination of his fastball, slider, and changeup mix will allow him to prosper at the major league level, and we're looking forward to watching the rest of his 2016 campaign. Today Conley was great, especially after getting out of a minor jam in the first where he allowed last nights nemesis Jace Peterson to reach third on a wild pitch. He got strikeouts with each of his three pitches and was able to induce nine ground ball outs over his eight innings.
This start will also go down as the longest of Conley's career so far. His previous high was a 7.2 inning gem he twirled in Milwaukee earlier this year.
A.J. Ramos was the other arm to contribute in this shutout. He converted his 23rd save of the season on 16 pitches (11 strikes), which ties him for the Major League lead with Met's closer Jeurys Familia. After inducing a groundout and strikeout to the heart of the Brave's order, Ramos allowed two sharp singles up the middle on back-to-back pitches, bringing the tying run to the plate in the form of Chase d'Arnaud. Ramos got the Brave's third basemen to fly out to Christian Yelich, erasing the threat. Ramos still hasn't allowed a home run this year, which put his xFIP through the roof at 4.02 before this outing, but with an ERA still at sub 2.00, he isn't struggling of late to get the job done.
The Marlin's closer is now one of only four relievers in baseball with more than 30 IP who has not given up a home run. He joins Will Harris, Brad Ziegler, and the previously mentioned Jeurys Familia.
The Fish managed nine hits on the day off of starter John Gant, and relievers Ian Krol and Tyrell Jenkins (major league debut for Jenkins). All three runs came in the second inning, starting with a Marcell Ozuna triple, which ties him for 4th in the majors with Jacoby Ellsbury and D.J. LeMahieu. Justin Bour followed with his 12th homer of the year on an 0-1 fastball that Gant would probably like to have back, as he left it up in the zone. The no-doubt bomb to the second deck in right field was followed shortly after by three straight singles. The veteran Jeff Mathis had the knock that added the third and final run of the game, scoring Derek Dietrich.
Despite the loss, John Gant for the Braves actually pitched pretty well. While he allowed some solid contact, most of it in the second inning, he got through 5.2 innings, striking out five batters while walking none. Gant and his extremely unorthodox delivery now possess a 4.45 ERA, but with three decent starts in a row, it seems likely the Braves will continue to turn to him. That means the Marlins may see this funky delivery next weekend in Atlanta.
Justin Bour on the other hand is quietly having a decent year. After 129 games in 2015 where Bour hit 23 bombs with a .262 average, the big lefty is on pace for just about the same amount of power. The good news is his peripherals show an increasing walk rate (7.6% to 10.4%) with a drop in strikeouts (22.6% to 19.8%). On top of all that, he's actually been a bit unlucky, with a 3% jump in his hard hit rate that says his BABIP should probably be higher than a meager .271. If you're in a fantasy league, I think he is a decent buy low right now as he hasn't gotten insanely hot yet, and when power lefties like him turn it on, a lot of valuable production can follow.
What's on Tap
The Marlins stay in Miami for the night, welcoming in the Cubs, who currently are down three runs in the 5th inning with the Cardinals. The best team in baseball, with 47 wins, is trying to avoid a sweep at the hands of their main NL Central rival. The Marlins will luckily miss ace Jake Arrieta, as he is throwing today prior to the four game series in Miami.
This provides a good opportunity for the Fish to calibrate their team versus one of the best in baseball. With a finale on Sunday that should feature Jose Fernandez, the Marlins hope to at least split the series as they chase the Nationals for sole possession of the NL East (Currently 5 GB before WSHvLAD game tonight).
While the Marlins probably should have taken the Braves matchup last night, they'll settle for a shutout victory today, moving their record to 38-34 on the year.
Hero of the Game: Adam Conley (+.354 WPA)
Goat of the Game: Christian Yelich (-.029 WPA)
Play of the Game: Justin Bour 2-run HR in the 2nd inning off John Gant (+.107 WPA)