Marlins' Conley seeks return to 2016 form vs. Phillies (Jul 18, 2017)
MIAMI -- Perhaps no one personifies the 2017 Miami Marlins pitching staff quite like Adam Conley.
After a promising rookie year in 2016, when he went 8-6 with a 3.85 ERA, Conley regressed this year and was demoted to Triple-A New Orleans in May. He went 2-3 with a 7.53 ERA in seven starts this year with the Marlins, and he was just a bit better at New Orleans, sporting a 3-3 record and a 5.49 ERA.
Now, after a dozen minor league starts, Conley is finally back and ready for his second chance, an opportunity he will get on Tuesday night against the Philadelphia Phillies.
One thing is for sure: Conley could not have asked for a better team to face, as the Phillies have the worst record in the majors.
But that alone won't save Conley, according to Marlins manager Don Mattingly.
"I think he just needs consistency with his fastball," Mattingly said. "I thought his fastball location was not very good when he was here, and his breaking ball was non-existent.
"His changeup was his best pitch. He has decent angles. He can put you in a box with those angles. He has had up-and-down outings in Triple A -- some have been good and some haven't. So we'll see."
Conley is 0-3 at home this year with an ugly 14.58 ERA, but he hasn't pitched at Marlins Park since May 8. In five career starts against the Phillies, Conley is 2-1 with a 1.47 ERA in 30 2/3 innings.
He will face Philadelphia right-hander Vince Velasquez (2-5, 5.58 ERA), who is set to come off the disabled list on Tuesday.
The Marlins (42-49) will try to win a second straight game against the Phillies (30-61) after beating them 6-5 in 10 innings on Monday.
Velasquez hasn't pitched since May 30, when he started but got just four outs in a 7-2 loss to Miami at Marlins Park. He then went on the DL due to an elbow injury.
Velasquez beat the Marlins 7-4 in his only other game against Miami this year, on April 26 in Philadelphia. In that game, he allowed three runs in 6 1/3 innings. In five career starts against the Marlins, Velasquez is 2-1 with a 3.16 ERA.
He made three minor league rehab starts this month, posting a 3.60 ERA and striking out nine in 10 innings.
Right before his injury, Velasquez beat the Colorado Rockies, allowing just one run in five innings, so perhaps he was starting to turn a corner.
The Phillies are hoping to support with Velasquez with enhanced offense, and one possibility is that infielder/outfielder Howie Kendrick will return soon.
Kendrick, who is hitting .349 with an .879 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, is nearing a return, although a rehab stint in the minors is the most likely route to a comeback.
Out since June 28 due to a left hamstring injury, Kendrick, 34, has a contract that expires after this season. The Phillies are hoping to trade him in exchange for minor league prospects, but Kendrick has to prove he is healthy first.
"He's here -- he took batting practice today," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said Monday. "He's going to do some outfield work, and we will see where he is."