Caleb Smith > Miami Marlins Bullpen

DENVER, CO - AUGUST 17: Adam Conley #61 of the Miami Marlins pitches against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on August 17, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - AUGUST 17: Adam Conley #61 of the Miami Marlins pitches against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on August 17, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) /
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Caleb Smith was sublime through six shutout innings on Saturday night.

Caleb Smith struck out eight over six shutout four-hit innings for the Miami Marlins on Saturday night. He put 65-of-100 over the plate, and walked only two. In hindsight, Marlins manager Don Mattingly should have let him pitch a little longer. The club made a late charge to try and challenge the Royals, but it was too little, too late in the end. In the long run, it may actually help the Marlins acquire a slightly better draft pick.

The bullpen is one of many weaknesses pervading the Miami Marlins roster, but it may be the most glaring. Adam Conley surrendered three runs without retiring a batter, and Ryne Stanek gave up three more in a third of an inning. Between the two, that’s a combined in-game ERA of 162.00, if anyone is counting.

Miami Marlins
MIAMI, FL – SEPTEMBER 07: Caleb Smith #31 of the Miami Marlins throws a pitch during the second inning against the Kansas City Royals at Marlins Park on September 7, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images) /

Adam Conley’s De(s)cent

Conley’s continued struggles are well documented. After a promising showing as a starter through the 2016 season, he put up a troubling 6.14 ERA in 2017, along with a 1.519 WHIP. The Miami Marlins had to do something.

Conley was retooled and repurposed as a reliever, and last season, put up a 1.086 WHIP through 52 relief appearances. He struck out 8.9 per nine innings, and there was real discussion on if he would at some point take on the mantle as the Miami Marlins closer.

This season has been a cruel wakeup call for Conley, whose WHIP has now ballooned to a career-worst 1.725. He now has a 6.79 ERA this season for the Miami Marlins, and this may be his last real chance to show something.

Keeping Conley around for the 2020 season seems almost ludicrous at this point. The Marlins have enough low-leverage guys, they don’t need any more. With Wei-Yin Chen still on the books with an ERA+ of 63, and Tayron Guerrero allowing 7.5 walks per nine innings, they have as many sub-replacement level pitchers as any team could possibly need.

Miami Marlins
DENVER, CO – AUGUST 18: Ryne Stanek #35 of the Miami Marlins pitches against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on August 18, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) /

Ryne Stanek’s Adjustment to the N.L.

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Stanek, on the other hand, joined the Miami Marlins from the Tampa Bay Rays with impeccable credentials, only as an “opener.” He’s started 56 games for the Rays over the last two seasons, and pitched a total of 142 innings. He struck out 171 over that timespan, with a solid 1.225 WHIP to his credit.

But since joining the Marlins, Stanek has had nothing but stale offerings in late-game, high-leverage situations. A 2.206 WHIP now in 11 1/3 innings, with 13 hits and 12 walks surrendered, along with only 11 strikeouts.

Sending Nick Anderson and Trevor Richards off for Stanek now seems like a bad decision. Hopefully, Jesus Sanchez can make it all better, but that’s another one for next season.

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