Way back in 2011, the Miami Marlins spent their second round choice on a six-foot-three lefty from Redmond, WA.
A lot was expected of Adam Conley right from the jump – he was ranked as high as number eight on the Marlins prospect list in 2014 according to Baseball America – and he rose quickly through the system. He made his major league debut for the Marlins in 2015.
In 15 appearances for the 2015 Marlins, including his first 11 major league starts, Conley posted a 4-1 record and a 3.76 ERA, a 1.284 WHIP, and 59 K’s in 67 innings. Out of 13 qualified pitchers on the roster, Conley was one of only five with an ERA+ over 100, just beating the mark at 101.
Conley began the 2016 campaign in the Marlins rotation, and in his fifth game of the year, had a no-hitter going through 7 2/3 frames. Relieved by Jose Ureña with two outs in the eighth, Urena got solidly racked for three runs in the ninth, losing the combined no-hitter two outs short of the job. Conley walked four and struck out seven in the eventual 6-3 victory against the Milwaukee Brewers.
It really looked like Conley was set up quite nicely as the number two or three starter on the team. Along with Jose Fernandez, they were the only two starters to break above even, Conley with an ERA+ of 102. Overall, he was 8-6 with a 3.85 ERA, a 1.403 WHIP, and 124 strikeouts in 133 1/3 innings.
But Conley struggled greatly as a starter in 2017 despite an 8-8 record. He had an ERA of 6.14 and a 1.519 WHIP, along with a career-low 6.3 K/9, with 72 in 102 2/3 innings.
Conley started 2018 as a starter with the New Orleans Baby Cakes, in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. After three starts he had a 19.64 ERA, a .488 oppBA, eight strikeouts and eight walks in 7 1/3 innings. Then something clicked for him.
Over his next five Triple-A starts, Conley racked up a 1.93 ERA, a .208 oppBA, and a 0.949 WHIP. Encouraged, the Marlins called Conley back up to the parent club, where he was repurposed as a reliever.
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Conley posted the best numbers of his major league career, adding an average of six MPH to each of his four pitches. He dropped his WHIP way down to 1.086, struck out 50 in 50 2/3 innings, and even saved three games for the 2018 Marlins.
And then 2019 happened. Conley posted a career-worst 1.731 WHIP and a 65 ERA+, going 2-11 with a 6.53 ERA over 60 games. He surrendered 11.3 hits and 4.3 walks per nine innings, which is an unsustainable rate if you wish to keep a major league job.
Nonetheless, the Marlins are convinced they can get something more out of the 29-year-old lefty. We wish him luck, and time will tell. Thanks for reading.