Could Adam Warren Surprise Like Ivan Nova?
By Jimmy Kraft
Early Wednesday morning the New York Yankees put their ace, CC Sabathia, on the disabled list with a Grade 1 left adductor (groin) strain. The injury will keep him out until after the All-Star break, which is approximately two starts according to manager Joe Girardi. However, the injuries kept piling up yesterday as Indians first baseman Casey Kotchman hit a comebacker that struck Andy Pettitte‘s ankle. As Pettitte went for the ball, it appeared his leg gave out and he hit the ground in pain. The workhorse that he is, he tried to stay in the game, threw a few practice pitches, but was ultimately taken out of the game as he was grimacing and limping after each pitch. Later it was revealed that he suffered a fractured ankle and will be on the shelf for at least six weeks (he’s an old man, give him two months).
The two empty spots leave a huge void for the Yankees to fill with pitchers not of Sabathia or Pettitte caliber. Chris already outlined who will really need to step up over the next two months in order for the team to limit the damage. General manager Brian Cashman wanted to promote from within rather than look for outside help, so Adam Warren will make it debut tomorrow against the Chicago White Sox.
To give you some context on how Warren has performed over his minor league career he’s a low strikeout (~19.5%), low walk (~4.5%)-type pitcher, so he’ll be relying on those behind him to make plays. He features a fastball in the 89-93 MPH range, and according to Baseball America, can touch 94-95 MPH regularly. His secondary pitches include a slider, curveball and changeup. Of those pitches, his slider is the best one of the bunch.
So how does that fit into the Yankees’ plans? Sure it’s trial by fire and he was most likely chosen out of necessity because David Phelps is busy stretching his arm out down in A+ ball, but Warren has a chance to surprise the team much like Ivan Nova did back in 2010 when he made his major league debut. Nova went 1-2 in seven starts, and his peripherals actually catapulted him into the starting rotation. Comparatively, Nova over those seven starts (10 total appearances) struck out fewer batters (14.1%) and walked more (9.2 %) than Warren. If we dip down to Nova’s 23 starts at AAA in 2010, he went 12-3 and compiled a 19.3% K-rate and a 8.1% walk rate.
Now, I’m not saying Warren will be the next Nova because there were some growing pains Nova had to go through in order to get to the position he is today. Plus, Nova is his own animal who exudes some much confidence, he owns the mental makeup you look for in a pitcher. However, it’s eerily similar that both pitchers feature the exact same repertoire (fastball, slider, curveball, changeup) and have very similar peripherals at the minor league level.
Again, I’m not proclaiming Warren as the next Nova, but the potential to take the next step is definitely there. It’s refreshing seeing the Yankees use their homegrown talent rather than simply trading them off for some overpriced veteran.
Sustainability comes from replenishing the farm with fresh talent, cultivating it and then enjoying the fruits of their labor (a new and novel concept for the New York Yankees and its fans). While Warren isn’t looked upon as becoming the next mainstay in the rotation, he is counted on to keep the team in the few games he’ll pitch with Sabathia on the mend. It’s an exciting time for him, a nervous time for fans and ownership, but an overly eager time for the boys in the clubhouse. Now would be a good time to turn that RISP ineptitude around and let the pitching rely on the hitting.
All statistics used from FanGraphs