MOOSIC — It took an outing with the New York Yankees and an outing with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders for Chance Adams to get comfortable in his new role as a reliever.
But as the 23-year-old right-hander retired the side to secure a 3-0 win and 2-0 Governors’ Cup first round series lead over the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, he’s starting to look more and more like he belongs in the bullpen.
Adams touched 95 mph three times and 94 six more as he struck out a pair of batters and retired the side to pick up his first-career save. He only had to use 12 pitches and nine were strikes.
“I think he’s really started to look comfortable, each outing more and more,” RailRiders manager Bobby Mitchell said. “I think that down the line he could be in the big leagues as a reliever and that’d be great for him. Because he goes out there and gets after it right away, moreso sometimes, I think, as a reliever than he does as a starter — knowing that he’s only going to go, here in Triple-A, two innings at the most.”
Mitchell wasn’t the only one who mentioned after the game that Adams could likely translate into an effective reliever at the next level, either.
Adams’ outing caught RailRiders catcher Wilkin Castillo’s eye, too. Especially his uptick in velocity.
“Wow, every time he throws his fastball like that — 94, 95 — he’s good. Because his breaking ball, he’s got a pretty good breaking ball, pretty good curveball and pretty good slider,” Castillo said. “When he’s throwing like 91, 90, it’s tough because his slider his hard, too. He needs, like, different speed in the game. Everybody needs it.
“Sometimes guys throw hard, but he doesn’t throw splitting hard, but it’s pretty good. But him, he needs to throw 94 and up.”
Adams has lacked some velocity this season, with his fastball hovering in the low-to-mid 90s. Some of that could be due to the fact that he had an offseason procedure done to remove bone spurs from his pitching arm.
As a reliever, Adams has adapted well. In his last three appearances out of the RailRiders bullpen, Adams has pitched 4.1 shutout innings and allowed just three hits and a walk while striking out three.
If he pitches the way he has been out of the bullpen for the RailRiders, Castillo believes Adams could take that effectiveness up to the Bronx and do it for the New York Yankees.
“I think he looks better from the bullpen than as a starter,” Castillo said. “Maybe next year he comes back stronger, but right now, he’s really good from the bullpen. Throwing hard, good breaking balls, commanding fastballs. It’s all we got.”
For now, Adams has helped his team move one step closer to making the Governors’ Cup Finals for a third straight season.
And that’s good enough.
“I wouldn’t say (we’re relaxing) because when that happens, things start to go south,” Adams said. “You keep pushing and the faster we win this the faster we go to the championship.”
Reach DJ Eberle at 570-991-6398 or on Twitter @ByDJEberle