I couldn’t help but notice something odd in regards to Jason Adam when he made his Major League debut on Saturday. It wasn’t the first time I’d noticed it, as I’d watched his film from AAA Omaha, but I couldn’t quite figure it out exactly.
Then it hit me. I went to my good friend Baseball Savant to see if I was right, or if I was seeing things, and sure enough, Jason Adam throws from two different arm slots.
One thing I noticed with Jason Adam, he varies his arm angle a bit when throwing his slider. It didnt matter in the Minors, but big league hitters will pick up on this stuff. Picture one of Adam is a fastball, picture two is a slider. Notice the change in angle in his shoulders. pic.twitter.com/JTSLQsJBcl— Alex Duvall (@duvy_013) May 7, 2018
See the two purple dots that are above the green, blue, and red cluster on the graph above? Those two purple dots are the sliders Adam threw during his big league debut on Saturday. Adam gets semi-significantly more tilt in his shoulders when he throws his slider, because it allows him to get his hand on top of the baseball, giving the pitch more of a 12-6 (straight up and down) break instead of sweeping side to side.
As subtle as this may seem, things like this matter. Major League hitters typically have crazy good eye sight, and they will pick up on stuff like this. Here’s another way to try to see it:
Here’s Adam’s fastball. Notice the smoothness of the delivery. Shoulder takes a fairly direct route to home plate. pic.twitter.com/C8Nd6gdsiR— Alex Duvall (@duvy_013) May 7, 2018
Yeah, I said “smoothness”.
And the slider. His shoulder has to rotate up so his hand can get more on top of the baseball. I’m willing to bet that Major League hitters will notice the different route to home plate. pic.twitter.com/6hWaegojvH— Alex Duvall (@duvy_013) May 7, 2018
I may be wrong. This could very well be something that never bothers Jason Adam and hitters aren’t capable of picking up on. He had a fantastic debut Saturday at The K and he dominated minor league hitters leading up to his debut. But I’d bet against it. MLB hitters are good enough to pick up subtle differences in a pitcher’s delivery that tip his pitches. I hope these differences in Jason Adam’s arm slot wind up being nothing, but it’s certainly something to keep an eye on moving forward.