Adam Russell threw another inning and a third of scoreless, hitless ball against Atlanta tonight.
Last season, he had messed around with multiple arm angles, which robbed him somewhat of velocity.
This year, Russell has made a concerted effort to deliver his pitches more straight over the top of his huge 6’8″ frame.
As a result, he’s seen his velocity creep into the high 90′s early on, and his biting curveball is now coming in more consistently in the 80-84 mph range.
With 3 1/3 hitless innings to open the year, he may well have locked down a spot in the Padres bullpen long-term, although Joe Thatcher and Chris Young are expected to bump two pitchers from the roster when they return from the disabled list in the next week or so.
Thatcher will likely bump Cesar Ramos back to Portland, while Young will likely bump Sean Gallagher, Russell, or whoever is brought up as the new fifth starter in Young’s stead (likely lefty Wade LeBlanc).
Russell should have at least another game or two to keep up this pace and prove to the San Diego brass that he belongs. Stuff-wise, he’s certainly dynamite, and now that he’s stopped tinkering and embraced a consistent delivery that maximizes the advantage given by his height, he could live up to his considerable potential.