Adam Conley and the Surging Marlins Aim for Another Win

May 10, 2016

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Miami Marlins southpaw Adam Conley is enjoying a breakout sophomore campaign, posting a 3.06 ERA and 1.11 WHIP in six starts. Conley’s early success is predicated upon significant mechanical adjustments that moved away from a results-oriented development and focused more on process.

“So now I’m creating a lot more torque and getting a lot further down the mound and getting there a lot faster and I’m creating that unwinding effect a lot later, Conley said. “I’ve increased my momentum and I’ve increased my ground force and I delayed my shoulder rotation.” Conley’s now releasing the ball further down the mound (his extension has improved by nearly four inches), thereby causing batters to see the pitch later.

Conley has also pursued the newly-defined concept of tunneling. This concept focuses on keeping all of his pitching looking similar for as long as possible. “Really, the idea is that all my stuff is drastically different but it comes out looking the same,” Conley said of his three pitches.

“The last 15 or 20 feet to the plate is where it’s at. In a perfect world, all of my pitches look like my best fastball at the knees down the middle for as long as possible. By the time it’s starting to look different, the human eye and brain can’t see it any more. You have to guess what pitch I’m throwing, then. I’m trying to make that decision time as short as possible.”

An ancillary benefit of Conley’s mechanical adjustments (i.e. extension, spin, ride, tunneling and sequencing) has been improved spin rates on both his fastball and slider. In fact, his fastball and slider spins have gone from being below-average to above-average. Through six starts, Conley owns a 9.46 K/9 rate (7.93 K/9 last year). He is also supported by a solid Miami bullpen that owns a 3.13 ERA and 1.11 WHIP at home this season, a 3.15 ERA and 1.25 WHIP at night and a 2.49 ERA and 1.15 WHIP over the last seven games.

Meanwhile, Milwaukee right-hander Zachary Davies arrived from Baltimore in exchange for Gerardo Parra at the trade deadline last year. The 23-year-old continues to struggle with his command and control as evidenced by his 4.66 BB/9 this season. Davies also owns a pedestrian 6.05 K/9 rate, together with a 4.93 FIP, 5.03 xFIP and 5.08 SIERA in his first four outings of 2016.

Overall, Davies is 0-3 with a 6.98 ERA and 1.96 WHIP, including yielding ten earned runs on 20 hits over his last seventeen innings pitched (5.29 ERA; 1.59 WHIP). In his first start against the Marlins this season, Davies gave up four earned runs (5/3 K/BB) in five innings (6-3 loss).

Milwaukee’s bullpen has also struggled, posting a 4.65 ERA and 1.61 WHIP this season. Technically speaking, the Brewers are a money-burning 5-12 in their last 17 games versus left-handed starters, 11-27 in their last 38 games versus .501 or better opposition (7-20 L/27 on the road), 2-7 in their last nine games versus National League East foes and 12-45 in their last 57 affairs with a starting pitcher who possesses excellent control (WHIP <1.15). Milwaukee has also dropped the last four starts by Davies and is 1-5 in his last six outings following a loss.

In contrast, Miami is a profitable 12-3 in its last 15 games overall, 9-2 in its last 11 games off a win, 8-3 in its last 11 games versus a right-handed starter, 5-1 in its last six games versus National League Central foes and 7-1 in its last eight affairs with a starting pitcher with poor command (WHIP >1.30).

With Conley toeing the rubber, the Marlins are 12-5 in their last 17 games overall, including 4-0 versus N.L. Central opponents, 4-1 in game 2 of a series and 5-1 at home versus .499 or worse opposition.  With Miami standing at 5-1 in the last six meetings in this series, take the surging Marlins and invest with confidence.

Oskeim Sports’ Free Sports Pick for Tuesday, May 10: Miami Marlins