Thanks to the versatility of Adam Warren, the New York Yankees need to consider throwing him in the ‘pen even if he dazzles as a starter this spring.
The spring training battle for the final two spots of the New York Yankees rotation is underway and it couldn’t possibly be going any better.
The competitors — Luis Severino, Chad Green, Luis Cessa, Bryan Mitchell and Adam Warren — have combined for an ERA of 2.24 across 20.1 innings of work and have struck out 16 batters compared to just six walks.
The oldest one of the group, Adam Warren (30), has registered a 1.80 ERA through his first two starts (1 ER in 5 IP) and has only surrendered one hit (.063 BAA) compared to five strikeouts.
The right-hander, who was sent to the Chicago Cubs before last season in the deal that brought Starlin Castro to the Bronx and re-acquired at the deadline when the Yankees sent Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs, has tasted success both as a starter and a reliever over the last couple of years.
In 2015, Warren went 6-6 with a 3.66 ERA in 17 starts for New York and then came out of the bullpen for 26 games and posted a 1-1 record with a 2.29 ERA. His strikeout rate was also 9.4 as a reliever compared to just 6.3 as a starter.
When he returned from his stint with Chicago in 2016, Warren went 4-2 in 29 relief appearances while maintaining a 3.26 ERA.
Now, behind Mitchell, Warren is probably having the second-best spring out of the group, but given the Yankees’ frustrating strugge to fill the role of bullpen swingman throughout 2016, he’d be better off in that assignment when April 2 arrives.
Over his five-year career in the majors, Warren owns a 3.88 ERA and a 6.6 K/9 ratio as a starter compared to 3.51 ERA and 8.0 K/9 ratio as a reliever.
More importantly, however, he has averaged 1.32 innings per relief appearance throughout his 184 career outings out of the ‘pen and could assuredly help bridge the gap to the back-end tandem of Dellin Betances and Chapman.
Throughout the first half of the 2016 season, Yankee starters averaged jut 5.76 innings per start and while the unit’s ERA was high (4.81), there was no sufficient arm present to help carry leads to the three-headed monster.
That’s because guys like Kirby Yates (5.72 ERA), Chasen Shreve (4.64 ERA), Nick Goody (4.91 ERA) Johnny Barbato (5.54 ERA) and Anthony Swarzak (5.68 ERA) led the team in middle relief appearances in the first half.
These five relievers, whose chief objective was to transfer the lead from the starters into the firm grasp of “No-Runs DMC,” combined for a 5.28 ERA while surrendering 21 home runs in 97.1 innings of work resulting in just 39 holds.
Throughout the second half, Warren (3.26), Tyler Clippard (2.49 ERA), Tommy Layne (3.38), Luis Severino (0.39 ERA) and Richard Bleier (0.00 ERA) led the way. They combined for a 2.76 ERA while surrendering just 11 home runs in 117.2 innings and 41 holds.
Want to know why the team saw their playoffs chances hit three percent by the deadline? Well, a closer’s value means nothing on a team that struggled to score and maintain leads.
In 2017, the Yankees won’t have an established long-man to turn to if Adam Warren opens the season in the rotation. By the looks of what occurred before the trade deadline a year ago, that would be a major hole New York will have to fill.
It’s obviously fun to possess a lights-out closer and a nasty setup man, but they won’t be profitable to the win column if the often-undervalued Warren is locked into a rotation spot.
Warren is in a position that many ballplayers with they were in because no matter what occurs during the rotation in Tampa — and, of course, barring any injuries — the righty travel up North with the Bombers. The other odd men out will likely punch their tickets on the Scranton Shuttle and begin the season in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
However, his performance over the last three seasons and, most importantly, the team’s need suggests that his value is better served in a bullpen role. He could be thrown in the rotation for a spot start here and there if need be, but the Yankees need a sustainable bullpen bridge to be successful in 2017 and Adam Warren is a significant support beam to prevent a collapse.