Miami Marlins

Miami Marlins finalize starting pitching rotation

Marlins left-hander Adam Conley, firing a pitch against the Nationals earlier this month in Jupiter, was picked to start the third game of the season after an impressive spring training. Conley had a 1.86 ERA in three starts over 9 2/3 innings.
Marlins left-hander Adam Conley, firing a pitch against the Nationals earlier this month in Jupiter, was picked to start the third game of the season after an impressive spring training. Conley had a 1.86 ERA in three starts over 9 2/3 innings. dsantiago@elnuevoherald.com

The Marlins revealed the remainder of their starting pitching rotation on Wednesday.

And following an impressive spring training performance, second-year lefty Adam Conley is right in the middle of it.

Conley and right-handers Tom Koehler and Jarred Cosart will start the Marlins’ third, fourth and fifth games, respectively, when the team plays its first road series in Washington.

Lefty Wei-Yin Chen had previously been announced as the Marlins’ Opening Day starter, with right-handed ace Jose Fernandez starting the second game of the opening home series against the Detroit Tigers.

Marlins manager Don Mattingly said Conley’s spot in the order was done to split up the starts for their two lefties and better balance the rotation.

“I didn’t want Adam pitching back-to-back games there after Chen with both being lefties,” Mattingly said.

Koehler, who went 11-14 with a 4.08 ERA in 31 starts and one relief appearance ( 187 1/3 innings overall) last year, has been steady once again this spring and was expected from the start to have a spot in the rotation secure barring any unforeseen setbacks.

Conley, 25, earned his chance after an impressive spring. In addition to consistent progression when pitching on the back fields in Jupiter, Conley made three starts and had a 1.86 ERA in  9 2/3 innings.

Conley has shown some of the overpowering stuff and command that made him a top prospect coming out of Washington State University, and helped him pitch well down the stretch last season.

Conley made 11 starts in his rookie season last year and 15 appearances overall, pitching 67 innings and compiling a 3.76 ERA and 1.28 WHIP. Conley put up solid numbers with 59 strikeouts to only 21 walks (2.81 strikeout-to-walk ratio). In September, Conley went 2-0 with a 2.62 ERA in six starts.

During a two-inning appearance against the Tigers on March 19 in a game that was eventually rained out, Conley struck out all six batters he faced.

“Adam had a great spring,” Mattingly said. “He’s been sharp with all of his stuff. He’s really been a guy on a mission.”

Cosart, a 25-year old who has logged 310 major-league innings over the past three seasons, figured he would have one of the rotation spots secure entering spring training. Cosart certainly didn’t do anything to pitch himself out of one.

He tossed  9 2/3 scoreless innings in two starts and four overall appearances this spring, allowing seven hits and five walks and striking out nine.

Cosart is hoping to bounce back from a tough 2015 season that was limited to only 13 starts after bouts with vertigo. Cosart went 2-5 with a 4.52 ERA in  69 2/3 innings last year after going 4-4 with a 2.39 ERA the previous season following his acquisition from the Astros.

Cosart said he has not had any more health issues, has worked with pitching coaches Juan Nieves and Jim Benedict, and has adjusted his delivery. Cosart is hoping for a strong season that Mattingly said earlier in the spring could be key to the team’s chances.

“Jarred’s a guy who’s a little less under the radar, but he’s been very good,” Mattingly said. “[Koehler] has been good. I think we’re ready to go.

“We’re not asking these guys to go out and throw shutouts every game, but keep us in the game and give us a chance to win.”

THIS AND THAT

▪ With the rotation set, David Phelps will open the season as one of the team’s most dependable middle relievers, with starting experience if needed. On Wednesday, Phelps looked very sharp in three perfect innings in a 3-0 loss to the Cardinals that wrapped up the team’s schedule in Jupiter.

Phelps threw 43 pitches, 34 for strikes, struck out six and retired two by fly ball and one by ground ball. His fastball topped out at 95 mph, and Phelps said after the game he felt he was pitching better than he had in the past two seasons. Phelps, who began his career with the Yankees, went 4-8 with a 4.50 ERA last season, making 19 starts and 23 appearances.

▪ The Marlins re-signed Don Kelly to a minor-league contract.

▪ The Marlins will conclude their exhibition schedule with games Friday and Saturday against the Yankees at Marlins Park.

COMING UP

▪ Friday: Marlins RHP Fernandez vs. Yankees RHP Nathan Eovaldi, 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.

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