The New York Yankees have one of baseball’s most dynamic bullpens, chock full of former and future All-Stars. But don’t forget about Adam Warren.
The New York Yankees bullpen is getting considerable buzz going into the 2018 season as one of the best in Major League Baseball. Built around the arms of flame-throwers like Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances, and Chad Green, where does a solid, reliable arm like Adam Warren’s slot in?
Originally drafted by the Yankees out of the University of North Carolina in the fourth round of the 2009 draft, Warren has been not only up and down as a starter and reliever, but also in and out of the Yankee organization.
Between June of 2012, when he made his major league debut, and December of 2015, when he was traded to the Cubs, Warren pitched both as a starter, particularly in 2015, and as a reliever. Evan Halpine-Berger of Yanks Go Yard wrote of Warren at the time:
Adam Warren was the epitome of consistency during his first run with the Yankees. Whether in the rotation or the bullpen, Warren was an often overlooked, but extremely dependable member of the pitching staff from 2013-2015. He compiled a 3.38 ERA in 148 games during that stretch.
In his first stint with the Yankees, Warren had established himself as a swingman/middle reliever without a blazing fastball, averaging between 92-94 miles per hour and often featuring a hard slider and changeup.
The Yankees traded Warren in December of 2015 to the Cubs in exchange for Starlin Castro, but Warren returned to the Yankees when the Cubs acquired Aroldis Chapman at the trade deadline in 2016.
As he explained to Chad Jennings of the Journal News at the time he returned to the Yankees, Warren was most excited to work with pitching coach Larry Rothschild.
Just working on a couple of mechanical things, getting the slider back — the depth back to the slider. It’s pretty neat because you have a pitching coach who’s seen you for four or five years. He can tell when things are off. He’s already been very beneficial giving me feedback. Had the outing the other night and want to make another mechanical adjustment. It’ll be a process to get back to where I want to be, but having him there to point things out to me is a pretty big deal.
The adjustments Warren has made to his pitch selection since returning to the Yankees are credited for his success in 2017. Derek Albin of BP Bronx argues that Warren was the Yankees’ second-best reliever with a 2.53 deserved-run-average (DRA) that lagged only behind David Robertson’s DRA of 2.30.
Albin argues that in 2017, Warren changed his pitch selection, in keeping with Larry Rothschild’s philosophy that Yankees pitchers rely less on the fastball. The slider became Warren’s “bread and butter” pitch in 2017 and opposing hitters weren’t able to do much with it.
Warren put up career numbers in 2017, finishing the season with a 2.35 ERA and an excellent 0.87 WHIP through 57.1 innings. In the postseason, he gave up one run in the American League Division Series against the Cleveland Indians and pitched 3.1 scoreless innings against the Houston Astros in the American League Championship Series.
What can fans expect from Warren in 2018? In spring training, he’s pitched in three games with a 1.29 ERA and five strikeouts. A small sample size to be sure, but Warren isn’t fighting for a job this spring—he’s building on the success of last season.
Warren could be tops in wins this year since he’ll often be brought in when the Yankees are down a couple of runs. He’ll be bearing down with the slider and the fastball and mixing in a changeup to hold things down for the most potent offense in the league.
Warren is an important bridge to the late-inning firemen and a pitcher who will significantly impact what FanGraphs is calling a “possible historic” bullpen for the Yankees in 2018.