Miami Marlins: O’Grady and Conley going punch for punch

MIAMI, FL - JULY 27: Chris O'Grady
MIAMI, FL - JULY 27: Chris O'Grady /

Lack of quality starting pitching depth wrecked the Miami Marlins season in 2017. With two months remaining, an interesting battle is taking place for the 2018 rotation.

Even the cockeyed optimist will have a hard time believing that the Miami Marlins recent success will steer them into the post-season. Six games under .500, and with July nearly in the books, there will be no playoffs in Miami.

This is the time of year teams that are out of contention start looking to the future. Miami is no exception. They’ve already made one deadline move, and are looking to make more. Meanwhile, fringe players currently on the roster are attempting to secure a spot on next years team.

No battle is more interesting than that of starting pitchers Chris O’Grady and Adam Conley.

The two couldn’t be more opposite in terms of their road to the highest level. Conley was a touted prospect whose commitment to Washington State caused him to slip to the 32nd round of the 2008 MLB Draft. He honored his commitment and improved his draft stock considerably. Conley was selected in the second round of the 2011 draft by the Marlins.

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O’Grady went undrafted out of high school in Congers, New York. He attended George Mason University and was selected in the 10th round of the 2012 MLB Draft. After failing to reach the Major Leagues with the Los Angeles Angels, he was released prior to the 2017 season.

While Conley has been given a number of opportunities to secure a rotation spot, he’s failed to do so to this point. He’s been a dizzying combination of dazzling and infuriating. Clearly possessing all the tools to be an effective Major League starter, he’s yet to put it all together consistently.

Meanwhile, O’Grady has had to scratch and claw for every inch. As a 10th round selection, he wasn’t afforded many second chances. He hasn’t needed any with the Miami Marlins organization.

The battle taking place

Thanks largely to injuries and ineffectiveness by their other starters, both players find themselves in the Marlins rotation. And despite their separate paths to the big leagues, they both find themselves battling for a spot in next years opening day rotation.

This won’t be a battle that is totally decided by the last two months of this year, but it’ll go a long way. The final decision won’t be made until after spring training.

As it stands, both players are doing well to make their case that they belong. Each turned in their best individual performance in their previous start. Conley went seven innings, allowing seven hits, but surrendering no runs while striking out five against the Rangers.

O’Grady had the best start of his career against the Reds on Thursday night. He threw seven scoreless innings, while walking two and striking out five. He surrendered five hits.

Conley earned a game score of 68 for his efforts; O’Grady received a 70.

Next: Conley needs to build off strong performance

There is little doubt who will get the nod if all things pan out equal. The Marlins invested a second-round selection in Conley and want to see him succeed in the Major Leagues. O’Grady faces long odds, but he’s had to overcome long odds to get this far. No sense counting him out now.

The battle will continue for another two months. Plenty to watch for as the Miami Marlins come down the final stretch.