In the minor leagues, Adam Warren was a good but often overlooked starting rotation prospect.
Last season, Warren was a long man who got high-leverage opportunities only when the Yankees bullpen was thin.
This spring, Warren was a fifth-starter candidate who always seemed more likely to reprise his reliever role.
Thirteen games into this season, Warren has emerged as something completely different. Because of the Yankees generally inexperienced bullpen, Warren has been given an early opportunity as a late-inning reliever, and he’s made the most of it. With a big fastball, Warren has been terrific as a go-to seventh-inning reliever and now as a fill-in setup man.
Question is, will this become Warren’s role for the foreseeable future?
It’s too early to know, of course, but it’s worth wondering if Warren might be emerging as a powerful option for short-relief situations. And that might be where he’s most needed. Warren’s stuff seems to play up in this role, and he’s had a ton of success with it so far (six innings, two hits, seven strikeouts). Teams are always hesitant to push potential starters out of the rotation mix — it just seems you can never have enough starters — but the Yankees now have CC Sabathia locked up to a multi-year deal, plus three other current starters who are 27 or younger.
Doesn’t mean there won’t be another rotation opening at some point, but some young starters inevitably end up in the bullpen, and Warren’s looked awfully good in that role through his first six outings this year. He, Dellin Betances and David Phelps are each either 26 or 27 years old, all three spent most of their minor league careers pitching out of the rotation, and they could be valuable bullpen trio going forward.
Associated Press photo