The New York Yankees are adding Adam Warren to the starting rotation and demoting Iván Nova to the bullpen.
Nova has been wildly inconsistent since his return from Tommy John surgery and the move to the pen makes sense. The Yankees are in a win-now mode. Every single day. They can’t afford to mess around, and if they feel Nova benefits them more by not starting, then get him out of there.
On the season Nova is 6-8 with a 5.11 ERA. His undoing came Saturday night in which he lasted just 1.2 innings, allowing six runs on seven hits to the AL East leading Toronto Blue Jays.
Nova is still going to be under-team control in 2016, and it seems likely the Yankees will shop him this offseason, or at the very least welcome any offers. He will be under a team-friendly contract, is still a year away from free agency, and would be a low-risk, high-reward for a team looking for a capable starting pitcher.
This isn’t to say Nova won’t be back, or doesn’t still have a spot in the Yankees’ rotation again, however with the impending free agency of David Price, Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake and others, the speculation will continue to rage on as the offseason approaches.
Warren, meanwhile, has spent the majority of 2015 in the bullpen for New York. He started Tuesday night against the Tampa Bay Rays and only lasted four innings, but only threw 65 pitches. Warren has, by far, thrown the most innings in 2015 than in any previous season since joining the Yankees in 2012 — he only made one appearance in 2012.
He’s not the typical household name, doesn’t feature overpowering stuff, but uses all of his pitches and has thrived in any role he has had. The fact Warren has used all four of his pitches in the bullpen should make the transition back to starting a rather seamless one. Other than having to stretch back out to last at least five innings, he gives the Yankees quality innings.
Warren has made 10 starts in 2015, posting a 5-5 record with a 3.63 ERA — as a reliever, 1-1, 2.51 ERA. He’s drawn comparisons to former Yankee Ramiro Mendoza, who also spot-started and was an effective reliever during the championship years of the ’90s.
The addition of Warren to the rotation is more about Nova’s struggles. I’ve never thought just shuffling a guy off to the bullpen was an easy fix, particularly for a pitcher who has primarily started. It might work, but it’s an adjustment. Nova will have to prepare to pitch one inning late in a game as opposed to getting prepared for a six-inning start.
Hopefully the opportunity in the bullpen will allow him to refocus and refine his mechanics. He must harness his adrenaline and be prepared to get outs whenever he is called upon.
If the Yankees make the playoffs, you’re looking at a rotation of Masahiro Tanaka, Luis Severino and CC Sabathia? Nathan Eovaldi‘s status is unclear, and now Nova’s future as the Yankees’ starter is in question.
Michael Pineda has been just average of late, giving up eight runs over his last two starts. He’s shown brilliance this season, most notably his 16 strikeout gem against the Baltimore Orioles on May 10, a 5-0 win. His ERA that day was 2.72. Today it’s up to 4.25.
Prior to that 16-strikeout performance, Pineda had allowed more than three runs in a start once. Since that May 10 outing, he’s had nine starts where he has allowed at least four in a game, including the immediate start after his 16 strikeout gem when he gave up five runs on 10 hits against the Kansas City Royals. He also missed time due to injury during most of August.
Outside of Eovaldi, Tanaka has been the lone constant for the Yankees. He’s been able to pitch deep into games, and has a 2.11 ERA in September. While the Yankees have some question marks in the rotation, the only focus is to win today. If the rotation can get consistency out of who gets the ball every fifth day, a lot of these questions will solve themselves.
A rotation of Tanaka, Sabathia, Severino and Warren makes sense right now. Ask me again in a week.