Adam Warren is an under the radar candidate to make the starting rotation

The Yankees will enter this season’s spring training with a number of competitions for the opening day roster. One of the most notable competitions will be in the starting rotation. With three spots locked up for Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, and CC Sabathia, there are two spots that are open to about five starters. One starter that is getting overlooked in this battle for one of the two rotation spots is Adam Warren. Warren will join Luis Cessa, Chad Green, Bryan Mitchell, and Luis Severino as the five guys vying for two rotation spots.
Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac | Getty Images

The apparent favorites to win the jobs are youngsters who share a first name - Luis Severino and Luis Cessa. Though Severino struggled mightily as a starter in 2016, the Yankees seem intent on fixing the soon to be 23-year-old and former top prospect. Severino limped through 11 starts last season pitching to a dreadful 0-8 record with a 6.11 ERA, which was juxtaposed against a 3-0 record with a dominant 0.39 ERA in 11 appearances out of the bullpen. With two solid pitches being his upper-90’s fastball, and solid changeup to keep hitters off-balanced, Severino may be destined to dominate in the bullpen, but if he can establish the slider, he could have a successful career as a starter.

On the other hand, Cessa actually pitched better as a starter compared to pitching in relief. In nine starts, Cessa went just 2-4, but with a very respectable 4.01 ERA in 51.2 innings, with five quality starts. As a reliever, Cessa had a 5.30 ERA in eight appearances, despite his 2-0 record out of the pen.

With all this in mind, Cessa and Severino will be favorites to win the final two spots in the rotation.

But look out for Adam Warren. The 29-year-old Warren should have an advantage in the race over Chad Green and Bryan Mitchell, and could propel himself to the top of the starting pitching competition due to his experience as a starter in earlier years, as well as his overall experience at the major league level.

Warren entered the starting rotation at the University of North Carolina during his sophomore year where he went a strong 12-0 with a 2.17 ERA in 15 games, including 12 starts. Warren was unable to duplicate that success during his junior year, as he made 18 starts going 9-2 with a 4.23 ERA, as he endured some control issues. Following his junior season, Warren was selected in the 36th round of the MLB draft to the Cleveland Indians, but decided to return for his senior season. He excelled in his final collegiate season going 10-2 with a 3.31 ERA in 16 starts, leading him to being drafted in the fourth round of the MLB draft to the New York Yankees.

As a minor leaguer coming through the Yankees’ system, Warren was used exclusively as a starting pitcher, making 92 appearances (all of them starts), over five seasons in the minor leagues. He also dominated minor league hitters pitching to a 3.13 ERA and a 28-25 record in 505.2 innings. Warren struck out 7.1 batters per nine innings pitched and has a 2.74 strikeout to walk ratio during his MiLB career.

Despite coming through the Yankee farm system as a starter, Warren entered the MLB scene in 2013 as a reliever, making 34 appearances, with just two of them being starts. He also had a very impressive 3.39 ERA. Warren only got better as a bonafide reliever in 2014 making 69 appearances (nice), all of them out of the bullpen. Warren struck out a career high 8.7 batters per nine innings and also sported a career best 2.97 ERA. Warren’s MLB success and past success as a starting pitcher led Joe Girardi to adding him to the starting rotation out of spring training in 2015.

As Yankee fans awaited the return of Ivan Nova from Tommy John Surgery, Warren was to fill the void in the starting rotation. Warren made 17 starts that season pitching to a 6-6 record and very solid 3.66 ERA. In fact, Warren was arguably the Yankees most consistent starter that season, but being established as a versatile reliever, he was regulated to the bullpen upon Nova’s return. Warren did even better out of the bullpen that season appearing in 26 games pitching to a 2.29 ERA. He shut down opposing hitters as they only managed to hit .236 that season against him.

The Yankees will come into 2017 in a similar situation to that in 2015, with many question marks as to who will fill some of the slots in the starting rotation. The difference? In the first full season of the Yankees youth movement, the Yankees have a plethora of young starters chomping at the bit to join the rotation out of spring training, and that may be the reason the Yankee organization looks to the younger guys to fill the rotation. That is one reason why Warren is not getting as much fan support in what should be one of the fiercest position battles this spring.

All five of the aforementioned pitchers are likely to make starts this spring, and the two with the most success are likely going to fill out the final two spots of the rotation. Warren should be a guy who is looked at as one who may have the upper-hand on the youngsters, if Joe Girardi is looking to add a more experienced pitcher to rotation. However, if Girardi puts Warren back in the bullpen, he will join a potentially elite group of Tyler Clippard, Dellin Betances, and Aroldis Chapman filling out the back end. Warren will once again be that hybrid reliever that can get as few as one out, or pitch as many as three or four innings out of the bullpen. Regardless of his role, being the team-first guy that Warren is, I expect him to thrive in 2017 whether it be in the rotation, or in the bullpen.

Article by: Chad Raines


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