Lost in the Roy Halladay melodrama and Domonic Brown fanaticism this spring has been the quietly brilliant performance of Mike Adams, the late-game stopper the Phillies brought in to prevent another season of 13 eighth-inning blown leads and a 4.89 composite ERA.
Adams has allowed one run in eight spring training appearances for a 1.13 ERA. Lefties are 1 for 11 (.091) against him and righties are 3 for 17 (.176), giving him a .143 opponents’ batting average.
He also has eight strikeouts to just one walk. Adams has been 100 percent as advertised, working quick innings and mowing down the opposition in beautifully boring fashion. He looks fully recovered from offseason surgery in which he had a rib removed to correct thoracic outlet syndrome.
We’ve gone over Adams’ resume ad nauseam since his arrival, but this remains one of the best signings of the offseason, league-wide. The 29th-best eighth-inning team adds the best setup man in the game to pitch after a top-tier rotation and in front of an elite closer … for the manageable guaranteed price of $12 million over two years.
With Atlanta’s Jonny Venters (elbow) set to meet with Dr. James Andrews next week instead of breaking camp with the Braves, it’s hard to put any 8th-9th inning combination ahead of the Phillies’.
With all of the Adams stats we’ve thrown at you this offseason – 1.84 ERA, 0.98 WHIP since 2009 – the most impressive one might be his ridiculously low rate of surrendering leads in late-inning situations.
Blown saves are charged to a pitcher who enters the game in a save situation and gives up the tying run(s). That save situation can be in the ninth, the eighth, the seventh, whenever. Over the last four seasons, Adams has had an average of 31 opportunities per year to blow a save and he has blown just two per year. Nine total blown saves in 124 chances -- a 93 percent success rate of moving the game into the closer's hands.
That’s a whole lot of leads that will be protected for Papelbon in 2013 that weren't in 2012.
You can also include the shaky eighth innings from Cliff Lee in there, because with Adams the Phillies won't need to stretch their starter out for an eighth inning if he's showing signs of wearing down. One major reason Lee had just six wins last season is because he allowed nine runs in the eighth innings of games, for a 9.72 ERA and .359 opponents' batting average.
Seriously ... if you just look retrospectively at the results that already occurred, think about how many more games the Phillies would have won last year with Adams. He may only be a 1.5 WAR pitcher, but the impact of his presence on other players on the roster and how they are used is far more impactful. An elite setup man literally could have been the difference between winning 81 games last season and making the playoffs.