NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 26: Adam Warren #43 of the New York Yankees pitches in the first inning against the Chicago White Sox at Yankee Stadium on September 26, 2015 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Before the start of the 2015 season, Adam Warren wasn’t sure if he wanted to be a starting pitcher or a reliever. With the help of the 2015 season, the right-hander has made a decision on what role he wants to play for the Yankees.
On the YES Network’s “Hot Stove,” Warren told Jack Curry that he wants to be a starting pitcher moving forward. The 28-year-old has spent the past few seasons as a reliever, but played multiple roles for the Yankees in 2015. Warren appeared in 43 games this season, making a career-high 17 starts in the process.
Warren had a rough month of April, but was very solid in multiple roles for the 2015 Yankees team. In his 17 starts (96 innings pitched), Warren posted a 6-6 record with a 3.66 ERA, but had trouble at times providing length deep into ball games.
In 26 appearances as a reliever (35.1 innings pitched), Warren posted a 2.29 ERA, serving as a “jack of all trades,” seeing opportunities as a long-reliever, set-up man, and even in the closers’ role. Manager Joe Girardi benefitted from having Warren in the bullpen, as he was able to rely on him in multiple situations to help put the team in a good position to win games.
According to Erik Boland of Newsday Sports, general manager Brian Cashman has told Warren to stretch himself out this winter, preparing him to battle for a starting rotation spot in spring training. This news should come as no surprise, as Warren has also been told to come to Spring Training as a starter over the last few seasons and has ended up finding his way back into the bullpen.
Warren has stated his desire to be a starting pitcher, but the question remains: should he be in the Yankees rotation for the 2016 season?
Although he has earned the chance of competing for a rotation spot, it’s unlikely that this point that Warren will actually crack the starting rotation.
Due to the size of their contracts, Tanaka and Sabathia are basically locks to at least have a rotation spot to start the season. When healthy, Tanaka has been pretty solid for the Yankees, but the concerns about Sabathia, both on and off the field, continue to be an issue.
After being called up during the season, Severino impressed many people within the organization, so it’s very likely he has earned a spot in the rotation as well. Before injuring his elbow late in the season, Eovaldi was a solid pickup for the Yankees, as they hope he can continue to improve his secondary pitches and command.
That leaves one spot, and three candidates: Pineda, Nova, and Warren. Pineda should be the early front-runner for the spot, as he has shown at times the ability to be a really good arm, but inconsistency has been a major issue for the right-hander. Nova could also be in play, but injuries and inconsistencies of his own have been a problem.
So that leaves us with Warren, a man without a spot. Being that Warren has been so good in the bullpen, it would be very hard for the Yankees to move him to the rotation.
But wait, being good in multiple roles hurts his chances of starting games?
Why yes, yes it does.
Warren has been great as a long-reliever and setup man throughout his early career. Pineda and Nova have never been thrown into a bullpen-type role, so it’s unclear if either one can handle it, but Warren has shown he can be effective in any role thrown at him.
To start the season, the Yankees are better off keeping Warren in a similar role he played in 2015, as he can help provide depth in the bullpen while giving Girardi and company insurance in case of injuries or struggles from the starting rotation. Having a guy who can fill multiple roles is a great thing to have, as he has shown the ability to do whatever the team needs him to do at any given time.
There is a very good chance Adam Warren could start games in 2016, but with the current state of this Yankees team, it would be best suited for the team if he remains as a member of the bullpen. Things could certainly change as the offseason progresses, but Warren is a guy who can be very valuable if used in the right role.