Pitching, pitching, pitching… That is what the Marlins are in search of, and whenever a reporter asks what is the Marlins’ main focus this offseason, the answer is pitching. Currently the Marlins have Jose Fernandez, Jared Cosart, and Tom Koehler set in the rotation. They are planning to add a starting pitcher outside the organization to team up at the top with Fernandez. With that said, the fifth spot in the rotation is left up for grabs.
The two people that will battle for that spot are Adam Conley and Justin Nicolino. Who will get that job? Last season was a sort of like a tryout in a way for the future. This spring training will most likely also be a tryout for that starting spot, but one of these two might already have a step ahead. Here is an in depth view on these two young stars.
Adam Conley started 11 games last season for Miami. He logged 67 innings, going 4-1 with a 3.76 ERA. This left hander has a mid to upper 90’s fastball, a great changeup, and a devastating breaking ball. Conley was very consistent throughout the season and was liked very much not only from the Marlins management, but it was rumored that many teams wanted to acquire him at last year’s trade deadline. Conley has also had a good minor league career. He went 34-21, posting a 3.52 ERA, in four seasons between rookie ball through AAA.
On the other side of things, Justin Nicolino is a name that has been very well known in the Marlins farm system. Nicolino was a monster in the minor leagues going 45-21 with a 2.81 ERA in 4 ½ years. Nicolino was called up last season for the fish and he made 12 starts. He went 5-4 and posted a 4.01 ERA. Nicolino only stuck out a total of 23 in all those games and the surprising number was that he walked 20 as well. He had some control issues at times throughout the season. Nicolino was a pretty countable pitcher down the stretch but when you look at all aspects of his game, he still has some little things to work on.
The Marlins need a strong rotation heading into 2016 and having a young starter in the fifth spot that had control problems last season is not something you want to start the season with. With that said, the viable option for that spot is Adam Conley. Conley not only had more control but provides a more powerful option.
Another possibility is that we won’t see a battle between both these two left handers. If the Marlins do not acquire a pitcher this offseason, then Conley and Nicolino might end up filling out the rotation. The Marlins are expected to make some sort of acquisition, but it is becoming more unlikely, as Miami’s rather quiet offseason continues.