Let me take you back to the year 2009. Michael Jackson died. Tiger Woods got his windshield bashed in by his wife. Oh yeah, the Yankees won the championship. One of the biggest reasons was the bridge to Mariano Rivera comprised of former top prospect Phil Hughes.
Hughes made seven starts for the Yanks that year and went 3-2 which is okay. His 5.45 ERA was not. Nor was his 1.50 WHIP or the 22 runs in 37 innings. The Yankees transitioned him to the bullpen and he was lights out. 5-1 with a 1.40 ERA. 65 punchouts in 51.1 innings. Hughes also threw a lot harder as reliever as this chart from Beyond The Box Score will indicate.
In 2009, Hughes as a starter threw his fastball at an average of 92.2 mph. As a reliever, 94.6 mph. His curve improved from 76.4 to 77.7.
Let’s fast forward to 2014.
How about Adam Warren? Now Warren isn’t a starter they had to transition because he hasn’t had a chance to do it at the major league level yet. I’m sure the Yankees brass still believe he is a starter. But the thing is, Warren, like Hughes could be that bridge to Robertson.
Warren in Sunday night’s game hit 95 MPH with his fastball. So far, his velocity is up this year. According to Fangraphs, his fastball is up from 93.0 to 93.3. His cutter is up from 92.5 to 93. His slider and his curve are up as well.
Who knows though? Maybe next year Warren or David Phelps emerges as a starter and the Yankees don’t have to spend millions on Max Scherzer or James Shields. For now though, Warren could be the 2014 version of what Hughes was in 2009.