Austin Adams and Colin Poche: Deep League Wire

Welcome to a special non-closing reliever edition of the deep league waiver wire! Pay attention AL-Only leaguers, these names are for you.

Austin Adams | RP SEA | 6% CBS Owned

Adams opened the season in the Nationals organization, but got DFA’d and then traded to the Mariners in early May. The Nats are likely regretting the move right now. In 22.1 innings, Adams has struck out an astounding 38 batters, good for an elite 42.7% strikeout rate. A quick look at his pitch mix makes it pretty clear what’s driving the success — a slider he has thrown an insane 59% of the time. While the slider has been very good (a 20.8% SwStk% against), that’s not other-wordly, or enough to explain the strikeout rate. Instead, it’s the very good (but not incredible) SwStk% plus the fact that he has thrown it so ridiculously often. From a velocity perspective, his fastball seems good averaging 95 mph, but its SwStk% sits at just 5.7%. There’s definitely serious risk of him throwing his slider less frequently and seeing his strikeout rate plummet.

Complicating things is suspect control. He has thrown just 59.7% of his pitches for strikes, versus a 63.7% league average, and his walk rate sits in double digits. This is nothing new for Adams, as he has consistently posted walk rates in the teens in the minors. It’s likely his previous organization couldn’t look past the control issues.

So while there is risk, it’s impossible to ignore the strikeout rate right now. In addition, Roenis Elias isn’t anyone’s idea of a locked-in closer. Sure, he holds a decent 3.55 ERA and has saved 10 games for the Mariners, but his SIERA sits at 4.31, right in line with his career, and he’s a former starter who could throw multiple innings. He makes literally no sense pigeon-holed into the closer role. Who knows when Hunter Strickland will return and if he’ll actually be effective. So it’s certainly possible that Adams puts himself into the closer conversation soon and if he continues throwing his slider like crazy, should do well enough to rack up a bunch of saves.

Colin Poche | RP TB | 2% Owned

Poche was on my short list of non-closing relievers I was interested in buying in the end game in my two AL-Only auction leagues, but he opened the season in the minors, which ruined my plan. He’s finally up and in his small sample of 12.1 innings, has been quite the interesting cat. Since there are a ton of weird numbers in his current profile, I’ll just share them in table form.

K% BB% SwStk% LD% GB% FB% IFFB% FA% CH% CU%
36.2% 2.1% 22.0% 26.9% 11.5% 61.5% 18.8% 94.1% 4.3% 1.6%

Wowzers, where to start?!

So first off, he’s been pretty fantastic, striking out 36.2% of batters and only walking 2.1%. Of course, in such a small sample, one extra or less strikeout or walk has an outsized affect on the rate. He’s backed up the strikeout rate with a 22% SwStk%, which is absurdly elite.

Next, despite all the strikeouts, he has been surprisingly vulnerable to the line drive. Then you scoot over to the rest of his batted ball profile, and you find that he’s a friend of the worm, only generating grounders at an 11.5% clip. Instead, he allows a ton of fly balls, and nearly a fifth of those flies are infield pop-ups. That’s one heck of an extreme batted ball profile!

Last, his pitch mix is positively hilarious. That’s not a typo, and no, I didn’t accidentally type a percentage sign instead of MPH. He has actually thrown his four-seam fastball 94.1% of the time. That’s 175 fastballs, eight changeups, and three curves. Too funny. This is already odd and weird and crazy in itself, but then you remember that he has generated a 22% SwStk% almost solely relying on his fastball! Hitters basically know what’s coming and yet have major difficult actually making contact with the pitch. His Z-Contact% is a low 64.2%, which is wayyyyy below the 84.9% league average. Talk about an utterly dominant fastball!

The Rays have no set closer, meaning that it’s highly unlikely that Poche becomes the de facto guy, like Adams has a small chance of becoming. But because the team does mix and match, it’s reasonable to expect him to grab a save here and there, which could be enough to earn you an extra point in the category. If not, he should still remain a big strikeout guy for a bullpenner and help your ratios.

Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.

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A) lolnats for their continuing inability to stop giving away good relievers too early (see also Vazquez, Felipe and Treinen, Blake); B) throws fastball all the time, somehow gets people to miss it, and gets nothing but fly balls when they do hit it? Sounds like we’ve got Sean Doolittle 2.0