Give Adam Russell Some Time | The Process Report

Give Adam Russell Some Time

When in doubt, trust the larger sample. Adam Russell has 69 major league innings and career numbers of a 4.30 earned run average and 3.33 FIP. This season, he has walked nine without intent and struck out seven in 15 innings. Naturally, folks are ready to toss him aside—which, because of his options status, means passing him through waivers. If David Purcey is going to get claimed by a team, then Russell probably is too.

He is stuck with the Rays (for better or worse) assuming the team wants to keep him—and unless something has changed in 15 innings, they should desire to keep him. Of course, nobody wants a reliever who walks more than he fans, but there is history with Russell suggesting this won’t be the case for long, and there is a possible explanation for some of his control issues.

In the past, Russell used what PITCHf/x labeled as a curveball as his secondary offering. This season, Russell is throwing what PITCHf/x is classifying as a slider. Is it a different pitch? Yeah, looks that way. The curve Russell threw often had velocities around 82-84 miles per hour, while the slider is averaging 85 miles per hour. It’s possible he is just throwing the same pith, but at a higher velocity, however, this pitch also has different movement. With that in mind, look at Russell’s strike rates compared to the league-average for that pitch:

Strike percentage
Sinker – Russell 61.3 percent, MLB Average 59.8 percent
Slider – Russell 57.5 percent, MLB Average 63.4 percent

Russell’s fastball control does not always impress, but between the whiffs and fouls, he seems to be okay so far, it’s the slider that misses the zone more than the league-average mark. Given the whiff potential of the slider, the velocity Russell offers, and the 50 percent groundball rate, there is still plenty to like about him. Relievers are unpredictable monsters. Maybe the 50 innings of success Russell had is just a big mirage, or maybe the sample of 15 innings is. Nobody knows, but Russell looks like someone who could become a decent enough reliever.

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