We've said it here a million times. Most veteran relief pitchers in their mid-30s probably shouldn't be given two-year, $12 million contracts.
That's what the Phillies gave set-up man Mike Adams prior to the 2013 season, and the results were not good. Adams pitched just 25 innings last year before spending most of the season on the disabled list. He missed some of the first month of this season too, and it seemed for all the world the Phils were going to get very little for their big investment.
But don't look now, Adams is earning his keep.
The 35-year-old bailed out his fellow bullpen mate Antonio Bastardo in a big way last night, after the erratic left-hander walked the bases loaded with no one out in the 7th inning of the Phils' eventual 6-3 win over Colorado.
All Adams did was induce a weak ground ball back to the pitcher from Carlos Gonzalez, which resulted in a 1-2-3 double play, then struck out the most productive player in baseball so far this year, Troy Tulowitzki, with runners on 2nd and 3rd and 2 out to keep the score tied at 2.
"That was fun," Adams said after the game. "In a situation like that, that was the most fun I've had in a while."
Adams could have walked Tulowitzki, but decided against it.
"I'm not going to back down from anybody," Adams said. "I ain't scared. I don't care who you are. That's what this is about. It's competition. I feel I'm better than the person at the plate. I'm not going to back down from whoever it is."
The Phils would give up the go-ahead run an inning later, before Ryan Howard's 2008-like walk-off bomb. But it was Adams' non-save "save" in the 7th that kept the Phillies in the game.
It's exactly what he was brought to Philadelphia to do, and now he's doing it with regularity.
In 17 games, Adams has pitched 15.1 innings and has an ERA of 2.35, a FIP of 2.33 and an fWAR of 0.4, all of which are excellent numbers for a late-inning reliever. He's striking out 10.57 batters per nine innings and walking just 2.35, with a ground ball rate of 55%.
He's yet another one of the Phils' veterans that are doing all the heavy lifting this year, picking the team up for the underachieving younger players. And if you saw this coming, I'd like to go to the horse track with you.
It's fantastic to see Adams coming through in high leverage situations, like he used to do with San Diego and Milwaukee. And if the Phillies can get any kind of momentum going, having Adams late in games should help them do a better job protecting leads and keeping things close.