2013 statistics: 77 IP, 3.39 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 3.84 SIERA, 4.32 FIP, 7.5 K/9, 3.5 BB/9, 0.1 fWAR, 1.2 bWAR
2014 contract status: Under team control; pre-arbitration eligible
Despite getting roughed up in his lone major league appearance with the Yankees in 2012, there was some hope for Adam Warren heading into the 2013 campaign, just as there's hope for every hard-throwing right handed pitcher with a four-pitch repertoire. When spring training ended, he made the big league roster as a longman out of the bullpen and emergency starter if needed. If he pitched well enough, injuries or ineffectiveness in either the starting rotation or bullpen offered Warren the potential to move up the ranks into a bigger role.
As the season progressed, that opportunity never really presented itself though. Three different pitchers put a stranglehold on the high-leverage innings behind Mariano Rivera. Another new kid in town, Preston Claiborne, was lights out to start the season, freshly acquired Shawn Kelley proved to be a strikeout machine, and David Robertson was, well, David Robertson. There was simply no good reason for Warren to pull a George Jefferson on the bullpen hierarchy.
When injuries inevitably happened to the starting rotation, there was another roadblock waiting for Warren. Before he broke into the major leagues in 2012, his minor league teammate David Phelps had already earned a ticket to the Bronx. Phelps was everything Warren was in the minor leagues, just a little better. So when it came to promotions, Phelps was the first choice. It was no different in 2013. Phelps was inserted into the rotation when a replacement was needed and performed well enough to stick there. Again, Warren was stuck in his long relief/mop-up role.
Perhaps more than anything, though, Warren's inability to land a larger role in 2013 was due to his own performance. He by no means pitched poorly, but he also didn't do anything to distinguish himself as a pitcher to be relied upon in game-changing situations. His strikeout and walk rates indicate that if that role is in his future, he'll need to gain better command and miss bats more than he did in 2013. A change in pitch selection might be a good way to make that happen in 2014. Fangraphs' PITCHf/x Pitch Values show that Warren's cutter, slider, curveball, and changeup were all plus pitches last season, but major league hitters feasted on his two-seam and four-seam fastballs. That was a problem since those two pitches made up more than 40% of his offerings. Relying on his changeup more and using the fastball as a change of pace pitch could mean the difference between Warren just being a spare arm and making him vital to the Yankees winning close games.
All in all, Adam Warren did just fine in his 2013 role. Every team needs a guy to eat innings during blowouts or to give the team a fighting chance after a rough first inning or two. He proved capable of doing just that. Now it's time for him to step his game up and become a cheap option at the back end of the bullpen.