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Marlins' 5th-starter race coming down to the wire

With roster deadline Sunday, Miami picking between Conley, Urena, Nicolino
March 27, 2017

JUPITER, Fla. -- Three candidates remain for one rotation spot, and the Marlins anticipate making a decision before leaving the Roger Dean Stadium complex on Saturday.Which direction the organization goes remains up in the air, with left-handers Adam Conley and Justin Nicolino and right-hander Jose Urena still in the mix.

JUPITER, Fla. -- Three candidates remain for one rotation spot, and the Marlins anticipate making a decision before leaving the Roger Dean Stadium complex on Saturday.
Which direction the organization goes remains up in the air, with left-handers Adam Conley and Justin Nicolino and right-hander Jose Urena still in the mix. There also is a chance all three will make the club, with two being used as long relievers.
The Marlins open the regular season next Monday at Washington, and their 25-man roster must be set on Sunday.
Miami has already announced Edinson Volquez will face the Nationals on Opening Day, with Dan Straily and Tom Koehler slotted in the second and third spots. Left-hander Wei-Yin Chen is the fourth starter.
A variety of factors will go into selecting the fifth and final starter.
"How do they fit into our whole package of the season?" manager Don Mattingly said.
Mattingly added that track records also are part of the equation, and so are Minor League options.
Here's a quick look at how the race is shaping up.
LHP Adam Conley:

A fixture in the rotation last year, Conley has struggled with his mechanics this spring. The left-hander did look more in synch in his last outing, when he threw three scoreless innings on Friday. Conley's velocity also has been in the 89-91-mph range. Last Spring Training, he was in the mid-90s. Physically, he is fine, and he anticipates his velocity will increase once he is more consistent mechanically. In 11 2/3 Grapefruit League innings, Conley has a 6.94 ERA with eight strikeouts and three walks.
RHP Jose Urena:

Whether he is in the rotation or not, Urena appears to have settled the issue of if he will make the team. Because he's out of options, there were some questions about his status within the organization. Urena, whose fastball has been clocked at 97 mph this spring, has shown enough to be with the club. In 14 spring innings, he has 15 strikeouts and an ERA of 5.14. The Marlins are looking for three long relievers, and Urena may wind up in one of those spots.
LHP Justin Nicolino:

Nicolino has quietly put together a solid Spring Training, and he is making a strong case for the starting spot. In 16 1/3 innings, he has a 3.86 ERA with six strikeouts and three walks. Nicolino has increased his fastball velocity, which has been in the 90-92 mph range, and he touched 93 mph in his last start. His cutter has been an effective pitch this spring. If the lefty doesn't secure a rotation spot, he still could break with the club as a long reliever.

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.