Jason Adam wasn’t perfect Wednesday, but he bounced back almost perfectly from a leadoff walk that gave Cleveland two runners with no outs to start the bottom of the 10th inning. Leadoff walks are the bane of a reliever’s existence, particularly when they’re issued on four pitches with a runner already on second to start the extra frame.
So when Adam missed badly on his offerings to Josh Naylor, the circle of trust into which he’d stepped started to shrink. Then the righty got former Cubs legend Mike Freeman to nub a first-pitch grounder that resulted in a force at third. That was followed two pitches later by an easy fly to Billy Hamilton to bring Francisco Lindor to the plate with a chance to do damage.
Naturally, Adam went with the tool he’s used the least this season and that has produced negative value thus far. Because, hey, that’s always a good strategy when facing a stud hitter with the game potentially hanging in the balance. Adam threw his curve for a called strike one, then put a change in the dirt before bending another breaking ball for a whiff. After Lindor fouled off a four-seamer in on the hands, it was time for the hook once more.
The All-Star shortstop is typically nails, but he stood no chance as Adam brought the hammer down for the third time in the at-bat. Just like that, the circle of trust expanded once more.
We just want to talk about these Jason Adam curveballs real quick. pic.twitter.com/zuMJ68jpET
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) September 17, 2020
Coming from that quick, compact arm stroke and biting like Bill Murray’s sarcasm, the curveball highlighted Adam’s fifth straight scoreless outing and set the Cubs up for a walk-off win. This was actually his seventh straight game with no earned runs, a span of 6.2 innings over which time he’s struck out nine with three walks and three hits allowed.
That’s not necessarily elite performance, but it doesn’t need to be if the Cubs continue to get good results from Ryan Tepera and a trio of closers that, yes, includes Craig Kimbrel. And before you go fretting about all the right-handers in that mix, consider that Adam and Tepera have pronounced reverse splits while Kimbrel is relatively neutral. While it’d be nice to suddenly conjure up a high-leverage southpaw, the Cubs don’t need a lefty at the back of the bullpen just for the sake of having one.
But enough of that mess, the Cubs have won four straight in pretty incredible fashion and the off-day affords some time to enjoy it. As for me, I’m going to bask in the majesty of Adam bending physics to his will against Lindor over and over again.