2016 Statistics: 58 G, 65.1 IP, 7.17 K/9, 3.99 BB/9, 4.68 ERA, 5.12 FIP, -0.5 fWAR
2017 Roster Status: Arbitration eligible through 2018, on the 40-man roster
It really was a tale of two seasons for Adam Warren. The 29 year-old reliever who was sent over to the Cubs in the Starlin Castro deal and then sent back to the Yankees in the Aroldis Chapman trade, saw his performance virtually flip after each trade.
Coincidentally, he had the exact same number of appearances for the Cubs and Yankees this season, and they couldn’t be more starkly contrasted. For the Cubs, he tossed 35 innings and put up a 5.91 ERA, 4.89 BB/9, and 16.7 HR/FB%. Why so bad? It’s unclear. His velocity was relatively consistent, as were the horizontal and vertical movement on his pitches. The problem, then, might have been due to his pitch selection and command.
For the Cubs Warren relied mostly on a healthy mix of fastballs, changeups, and sliders, while on the Yankees he focused on fastballs, sliders, and curveballs, effectively scrapping the changeup entirely. Would that really make the difference? It’s unclear. FanGraphs had the changeup as his most valuable offering by pitch value, and his hard-hit ball profile is almost identical between his career average, the Cubs in the first half, and the Yankees in the second half. Nonetheless, the difference in performance was enormous: for the Yankees, he pitched to a 3.26 ERA/4.30 FIP in 30.1 innings, which was especially important given the loss of Chapman and Andrew Miller.
If anything, a lot of Warren’s troubles could be a sample size issue. It is just 65.1 innings on the season, after all, and that leads to considerable volatility in season totals. The only things we know is that he walked more batters, and seemingly mixed around his repertoire after the trade deadline deal. Based on that, and the fact his command was a bit better in New York, there’s some optimism that he can continue his second half play next year.
Warren is slated to be in the mix for the late-innings options next year, and I think he deserves a shot at the seventh inning role. Considering the value he has given the Yankees from 2013 to 2015, it’s clear that he can be a valuable piece. He also has some history starting, and he could get another chance in the rotation, depending on the starting pitching situation during spring training. The question, really, is: was the first half of the season a blip, or an indication of where his career is heading?