Yesterday's doubleheader threw a little hiccup into the Yankees' current rotation order. To combat that and give the older Andy Pettitte and Hiroki Kuroda enough rest between starts, Adam Warren will start tonight's game. The rookie has worked exclusively out of the bullpen this season and has been on the wrong side of the performance curve since June, yet that did not dissuade the Yankees from keeping him on the active roster and available to make this spot start.
There won't be too much weight put into 1 spot start, especially when it's coming almost a month after Warren's last appearance in which he threw more than 60 pitches. But Warren can start to lay down the groundwork for his 2014 rotation competition with a good outing tonight. His only other career Major League start is last year's 2.1-inning disaster in Chicago, a memory I'm sure Warren would like to erase and get himself a fresh start as a starting pitching prospect. There's plenty of opportunity for him to earn a spot at the back of the rotation next spring, and this is his best chance to get a head start on the competition.
Despite the infrequency with which they've come, Warren has been at his best this year in his longer appearances. He's had 5 appearances of 4.0 IP or more already this season, totaling 23.1 IP, and he's allowed just 4 ER with a nearly 3:1 K:BB ratio in those appearances. That includes the 5.1 innings of 1-run ball he threw in relief of Hirok in the 2nd game of the year, a pair of scoreless 4-run outings in May, and 6 stellar innings of scoreless extra-inning ball in the eventual 18-inning loss to Oakland. The last time Warren pitched 4 innings or more was on July 26th and things didn't go so well then (3 H, 3 BB, 3 ER), but that's been the exception to the rule so far.
Warren last pitched on Saturday, throwing 57 pitches over 2 shaky innings. His pitch count limit probably won't be much more than 70-75 tonight, so hopefully he's more efficient than he was last time out. The Yankees can ill afford to burn through their bullpen for the bulk of tonight's game. I'm sure Joe will have David Huff ready to handcuff to Warren should he struggle, but it would be nice to see Adam turn in a solid 5-6 innings if he can.
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