Blue Jays: Ranking the top 10 relief pitchers in the AL East in 2023
4: Jason Adam, Tampa Bay Rays
From Nick Anderson to Collin McHugh, to Emilio Pagan, the Tampa Bay Rays seem to churn out great seasons from no-name relievers like it's nothing. Former Blue Jay, Jason Adam, in 2022 was the latest of such pitchers, and he'll be looking to continue that success into 2023. To people unfamiliar, this might seem like a bit of a high ranking, but last season, Adam was one the best relievers in all of baseball. In 63.1 innings pitched, he had a 1.56 ERA and a 0.758 WHIP, the latter of which was second in the AL behind only Emmanuel Clase. He was flat-out dominant last season in terms of raw numbers, and his advanced numbers only make him look better. Adam's baseball savant is a thing of beauty, so here are a few of the highlights.
Average Exit Velocity
Hard Hit Rate
Not only were Adam's raw numbers elite in 2022, but the statcast numbers show that it was far from a fluke, and his performance last season was truly one of the best. He's got a bit of a different pitching style than the rest of this list, as he doesn't have the velocity that you'd expect from a high-caliber reliever, but it's still very effective. His slider, which he used 35% of the time last year, was absolutely dominant against righties last season, and all batters hit just .096 against it. It generally sits in the low 80s, but it's got such good movement that it still produces tons of whiffs. His changeup, which he used 33% of the time, is his best tool against lefties but is just as effective low and in against righties. It's got plus velocity, averaging 90 MPH and is almost unhittable when he can locate it low in the zone. Finally, he's got a fourseamer which he used 32%, and despite only averaging 95 MPH, is a really good pitch. As shown in the numbers above, the spin he gets on his fastball is unmatched, and his active spin rate of 81% (which is spin that contributes to the movement of the ball) makes the pitch far more deceptive than the average fastball. Just watching Adam pitch, he won't blow you out of the water with velocity, but the stuff he does have is top-notch, and he was really able to unlock it in his first season with the Rays. No guarantee he'll repeat that success, but his 2022 was just too good to ignore.