Marlins round out rotation

Conley, Koehler, Cosart are Nos. 3-5 starters

Marlins round out rotation

JUPITER, Fla. -- Before packing up and exiting their Roger Dean Stadium headquarters on Wednesday following a 3-0 loss to the Cardinals, the Marlins settled some important unfinished business.

Manager Don Mattingly announced the final three spots in the rotation, and there were no surprises. Left-hander Adam Conley draws the No. 3 assignment, with Tom Koehler listed fourth and Jarred Cosart in the fifth slot. The three will follow Opening Day starter Wei-Yin Chen, and Jose Fernandez, who will go in Game 2.

While Conley, Koehler and Cosart were expected to round out the rotation, the order was in question.

Mattingly said by going with Conley third, the two lefties are split up. The left-right-left pattern is Chen, Fernandez and Conley. Chen will get the season rolling on Tuesday against the Tigers at Marlins Park, with Fernandez set for Wednesday. Conley will begin the road trip on April 7 at Washington. Koehler and Cosart will complete that series.

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"We're splitting up the lefties with Conley going three," Mattingly said. "I didn't want to put [Conley] on the back end where he was pitching back-to-back with Chen."

Conley has been one of the top Marlins' stories in Spring Training. The 25-year-old went 1-0 with a 1.86 ERA in 9 2/3 innings. He actually did better, but his outing where he struck out all six Tigers he faced on March 19 was rained out. That performance didn't count on his Grapefruit League statistics.

"He was really good," Mattingly said. "We've talked about it all spring. He's been a guy on a mission. He's been sharp with all of his stuff."

As a rookie in 2015, Conley posted a 4-1 record with a 3.76 ERA in 67 innings.

Cosart strikes out four

Like Conley, Cosart also enjoyed a teriffic Spring Training. The 25-year-old entered camp without the guarantee of a rotation spot.

In 2015, he dealt with freakish injuries, going on the disabled list last May with a bout of vertigo. In August, he was diagnosed with an inner-ear disorder.

Healthy, Cosart had his fastball top at 98 mph this spring, and he didn't allow a run in 9 2/3 innings. The right-hander struck out nine batters.

"[Cosart] has been kind of the same [as Conley]," Mattingly said. "He's been a guy who has been a little less under the radar, but he's been really good."

Koehler gets out of a jam

Koehler, 29, has been a fixture in the rotation since 2013. The right-hander paced the club in innings last year with 187 1/3 in 32 appearances (31 starts).

The other day, Koehler received a scare when he was struck on the elbow by a comebacker while pitching in a Minor League game. The incident left a bruise, but it did not hinder his pitching schedule.

In each of the past two years, the Marlins have used 13 starting pitchers for a franchise record. They're looking for stability.

This starting five has power arms in Fernandez, Conley and Cosart, who have all touched at least 97 mph in Spring Training. Chen is a steady veteran, and Koehler has been a workhorse.

"We feel good. They've been throwing the ball well," Mattingly said. "Again, what we've talked about earlier. We're not asking these guys to go out and throw shutouts every night. It's basically, 'Keep us in the game, and give us a chance to win.'"

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.