Friday, October 9, 2015

Eovaldi's injury furthered Warren's misuse, aided Yankees’ skid

When the New York Yankees lost their wins leader, Nathan Eovaldi, to a season-ending injury on Sept. 5 it was an immediate blow to the club's rotation. Moreover, it can be argued that Eovaldi's injury provoked furthered misuse of Adam Warren, which then aided in the Yankees season-ending skid.

Adam Warren
Photo credit - Keith Allison via Flickr
Eovaldi’s injury hurt both the rotation and the bullpen. Of course, the Yankees lost their most productive starter at the time in Eovaldi. He had been on a tremendous run after mastering his split-finger fastball going 10-2 across 12 starts (73.2 IP) with a 2.93 ERA and a .584 OPS-against, before slumping in two starts leading to the injury.

With Eovaldi out of the picture, the Yankees transitioned Warren back to the rotation after having moved him to the bullpen in late June in an effort to keep his innings down for the rest of the season. The decision was a smart one considering he had thrown less than 80 innings in each of the last two seasons, and showed they valued Warren's future.

Warren’s stint in the pen should have been better served as the Yankees were relying heavily on Justin Wilson, Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller and consequently their usage was reaching extremes. Warren gave Yankees manager Joe Girardi another option for mid to high-leverage innings, but the skipper did not always use him in such a manner.

Warren’s move back to the rotation only encompassed 3 ½ weeks of the season, but I believe he could have made a much bigger impact as a reliever during that time than he did as a starter. This is not to say Warren is a poor starter, he’s actually a good one, but the Yankees needed him in the reliever role because no one else was as effective as he compared to the remaining middle-relief options. Wouldn’t Warren have been a better option than many of the players below down the stretch?

Yankees Relievers - Sept./Oct.
Besides, the overuse of the backend of the bullpen, the Yankees might have benefited from not relying on a multitude of the mediocre relievers they did.

Warren was good as a starter, and better as a reliever. He is able to change his style of pitching for both roles and seems to fare well in each circumstance. But, his time as a reliever produced the best results. Had he been used appropriately from the time he entered the bullpen fray in late June and then kept in the bullpen through the end of the season, Wilson, Betances and maybe even Miller might have been used less often, making them more effective in the heat of the season.

Adam Warren - As starter and reliever
When Warren was shifted back to the rotation, Ivan Nova was demoted to the bullpen and was never used in that role. It can be argued that the Yankees didn’t get much length out of Warren’s three September starts (13.1 IP), because he was working his way back into starter status and Nova, despite his inconsistencies, might have been best left in the rotation to finish the season. At the least, Nova might have worked more innings in his starts thus reducing the wear on bullpen arms.

Also, if the Yankees were concerned with Nova’s production in conjunction with Eovaldi’s injury, they could have stretched out Bryan Mitchell just as they decided to do with Warren. Mitchell is a starting pitcher, plain and simple, and had some success this season making spot starts for the club.

The fact is, the bullpen, not the rotation was on the skids in September. None of this becomes an issue if Eovaldi is not hurt, and if the Yankees used Warren appropriately from the beginning of his initial transition. So, the Yankees in my view erred twice; once by misusing Warren and not placing him in higher-leverage situations and second by flipping him back to the rotation for three shortened starts in which he positively impacted just one game.

It's difficult to ascertain whether Warren's use pattern would have made a difference in the standings or not, but it would have been great had the Yankees given him a larger role in the bullpen in order to find out.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance baseball writer. Besides his work here, Christopher is a featured Yankees writer for His baseball commentary has also been published on Yahoo Sports and linked multiple times on MLB Trade Rumors’ Baseball Blogs Weigh In. He is a member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance and the BYB Hub.