2015 Statistics: 43 G, 17 GS, 131.1 IP, 3.29 ERA, 3.59 FIP, 1.165 WHIP, 7.1 K/9, 2.7 BB/9
2015 Contract Status: 40-man roster, arbitration eligible
I'm pretty sure if the Yankees had asked Adam Warren to sweep the clubhouse after every game, he would have done it, and you could have eaten off the floor after he was finished. Was there anything he didn't do well this season? Let's take a look back at Adam Warren's 2015 performance–one we should all be very happy with.
Warren has been in the Yankees system since they took him out of the University of North Carolina with their fourth-round pick in 2009. While the Yankees were marching towards their 26th world championship, Warren was cutting his teeth in Staten Island. The Yankees pushed him aggressively over the next couple of years, and he made it to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre by the start of the 2011 season.
He spent most of 2012 there as well, save for one horrendous start against the White Sox. Warren was called up to make a spot start and didn't make it through the third inning, allowing six runs and 8 hits, including two home runs, in 2.1 innings of work. Warren rebounded from a disappointing debut when he made the team as a long man in 2013, pitching 77 relief innings with a 3.39 ERA and 4.32 FIP, eventually developing into a solid seventh inning guy in 2014, when he put up a 2.97 ERA and 2.89 FIP in 78.2 innings.
In 2015, the Yankees asked Warren to show up ready to compete for a rotation spot in spring training (mostly with Chris Capuano), and he did just that. He even co-starred in the "Brett and His Bat" commercial. Talk about doing everything they ask you to do! Anyway, Warren pitched well in the spring and earned the fifth spot in the rotation as the team headed north. Sure, an injury to Capuano helped, but I'd like to think the Yankees would have given the spot to Warren anyway... at least I hope so.
Warren struggled as he adjusted to the role of rotation regular a bit at the beginning of the season, but really hit his stride in May and June. Through 14 starts, he had a 3.59 ERA and the league was slashing just .240/.307/.359 against him in 82.2 innings. He kept guys off the bases with some good control (2.8 BB/9) and allowed less than a hit per inning. He even got 10 double plays. Keeping guys off the bases and getting ground balls is a great beginning to a recipe for success.
Unfortunately for him, Ivan Nova recovered from Tommy John surgery a little faster than most people anticipated (it usually takes closer to 18 months to return, and Nova took about 13). When Nova made his return to the rotation in late June, Warren was the odd man out. Despite all of his success in the rotation, he was sent to the bullpen. At first, he was used a bit erratically, but once he settled into an actual role, he kept his success rolling. Over the next three months or so, Warren pitched in 25 games out of the pen, putting up a 2.51 ERA and allowing an even more anemic triple slash line of .218/.279/.353 to opposing hitters in 32.1 innings. His walk rate dropped to 2.2 BB/9, and his strikeout rate jumped from 5.9 to 9.5 K/9.
Because of Nova's inconsistency and ineffectiveness, an injury to Masahiro Tanaka, and the fact that the Yankees were in a standings free-fall, Warren was put back into the rotation for a few turns in late September. He wasn't at his best, as he was still getting stretched back out, but he did have a six-inning outing with only one run allowed against the White Sox to earn his seventh win of the season on September 26. He finished the year back in the bullpen with three innings against Boston in the 4-1 win that clinched a playoff spot on October 3.
When a guy does everything you ask him to do, and does it well, he deserves an A. Adam Warren spent the season moving from the rotation to the bullpen and back, never complained (that we heard of) and pitched his butt off. Job well done, Adam. As far as next season goes, I think Warren has proven that he's worth more to the team in the rotation, or in a potential trade, than he is in the bullpen. If the Yankees aren't going to let him start, they should consider dealing him for help in other areas. Versatility is always nice to have, but I hope he ends up in the rotation.