Adams appears to be healthy and that is a tremendous sign for the Phillies, who desperately needed a qualified eighth-inning man. Most relievers are fungible. A Chad Durbin, for example, isn't a meaningful upgrade over a Justin De Fratus.
Mike Adams does not fit into that box. He is a difference-making bullpen piece that could have literally made the difference last season between 81-81 and 85-77 or so. I'm not talking WAR, because WAR isn't the ideal metric for pitchers in general or relievers in specific. I'm talking about the difference between Adams pitching an eighth inning and Chad Qualls doing it. When Qualls releases the ball he hopes to avoid hard contact. When Adams releases the ball the hitter hopes it doesn't cut into the skinny part of his bat.
Adams made 243 appearances from 2009-12. He had a 1.84 ERA and 0.98 WHIP. In 109 of those 243 appearances he allowed no baserunners. In 92 of them he went at least one inning and allowed no baserunners.
Know how many times a Phillies reliever went at least one inning last season without allowing a baserunner? 93, in 428 total appearances. So one out of every five times a Phillies reliever entered a game last season, he pitched a perfect inning. Adams has done that in 38% percent of his appearances the last four years.
Howard stays hot
Two more hits for Ryan Howard -- a double and a homer -- raised his spring line to .533/.556/.933. He's 8-for-15 with three doubles, a homer and two walks.
The most impressive part of Howard's Thursday was that the first-inning double came against a lefty in Paul Maholm, and the fifth-inning homer was off Craig Kimbrel. Howard is 4-for-6 so far against southpaws.
Howard has played every game so far this spring. Just because he was injured last season doesn't make him an injury concern. The Achilles looks fully healed, and while it's just the spring, it's encouraging to see Howard and Chase Utley each hitting .500 or better through a handful of games, with Domonic Brown showing real signs of improvement as well.
The Phillies play the Yankees tomorrow at 1:05 p.m. in Tampa. The game will be on MLB Network, but not live.