It’s easy to argue that the best thing Adam Conley has going for him while gunning for a 2018 rotation spot is that he already has experience in the big leagues. It’s also easy to argue that the biggest negative that Adam Conley has going against him is that he’s had experience in the big leagues, given his big setback in 2017.
A second round pick of the Marlins in 2011 out of Washington State University (Go Cougars!), Conley hit the majors in 2015. Like fellow rotation candidate, Jacob Turner, Conley’s early tenure with the Fish showed a lot of promise, only to be met with disappointment in later seasons.
The before and after is a stark contrast, indeed. His fWAR went from 1.5 to -1.3 between 2016 to 2017. But why?
Of note, Conley has consistently thrown his fastball around 65% of the time since joining the Marlins in 2015. His fastball velocity, up to an average of 92.1 mph in 2016, fell to only 89.9 mph in 2017. The rest of his arsenal is split between a change-up and slider.
It’s possible that Conley was injured last year and failed to tell anyone, leading to a drop in velocity. Conley himself blames it on getting away from his usual delivery and dropping his arm slot. Also, he felt that his off-season workout prior to 2017 wasn’t up to its usual intensity. He came to camp having fixed both of those issues.
Regardless of the cause, if Conley can gain back some velocity, hit his spots, and perhaps add a cutter or two-seamer, he could have success again.
So far this spring, Cpnley’s numbers have not been particularly promising: 8 IP, 12 hits, 5 ER, 1 BB, 2Ks for an ERA of 5.63 and a WHIP of 1.625. Unless things turn around markedly over the next few weeks, Conley might best be served to work on his issues in New Orleans to start the season. But, given the number of opportunities still available among the starting staff and Conley’s strong sense of faith, anything is possible.