Like David Phelps and Ivan Nova before him, Adam Warren stepped up to grab an opportunity that injuries presented in Spring Training. He pitched well, got noticed by the coaches, and stepped into Phelps' vacated long man bullpen role when Phelps got bumped to the rotation. Warren, always regarded as a consistently good but never great prospect in the Minors, projected to be a 4th-5th starter at best at the Major League level and his best chance to work his way onto the roster was probably through the bullpen. Warren continued his impressive spring through the first couple months of the season, coming up with a couple big outings and displaying solid stuff. Since the calendar flipped to summer, however, the going has gotten tough for Warren and the regression has brought him back down to just average.
After taking the loss in Wednesday night's suckbomb, Warren now sports a 3.74/4.46/3.70 tripleslash on the season in 53.0 IP. His K rates (19.0%, 7.30/9) are nothing special and his BB rates (8.0%, 3.06/9) are a little more than you'd like to see. He's got a 47.9% GB rate and in his 21 appearances he's been worth exactly 0.0 fWAR. Everything about him screams "average" and it's taken the last 3 months for him to get there.
After giving up just 6 ER in 25.2 IP through April and May, Warren has allowed 16 ER in 27.2 IP since the start of June. He's walked more batters and given up hits and home runs at a higher rate than he was at the start of the season. His monthly ERA splits since June are 5.25, 5.06, and 5.79. FIP values aren't much better at 5.71, 5.49, and 5.19. His appearances often haven't impacted the outcome of games, but he's hardly been effective when he's been called on. Warren allowed runs in just 2 of his first 9 appearances and rattled off a streak of 5 straight scoreless at one point in May. He's allowed at least 1 run in 6 of his last 7 appearances dating back to July 8th, including a 3-game streak of giving up a home run.
It certainly appears as though the league has caught up to Warren, and much like Phelps last season he'll have to make the appropriate adjustments to his game now if he wants to keep his job next season. Along with being figured out, another possible contributing factor to Warren's regression could be the infrequency with which Joe has used him. Warren's gone at least a week between appearances 6 times this season, 3 of them lasting almost 2 weeks. When you aren't getting regular work, it's tough to retain command of your pitches and work on fixing mechanical flaws. As a young pitcher getting his first real Major League experience, it's probably even tougher for Warren. He doesn't have killer stuff to fall back on so he's much more susceptible to getting beat up out there on days when he doesn't have his A-game.
Whether it's mechanical problems, lack of command, lack of consistent work, hitters starting to figure him out, natural regression, bad luck, or an amalgamation of all those factors, Adam Warren has watched his strong rookie season fall apart around him these last few months. It hasn't drawn much attention, nor should it when the rest of the team has so many problems and most of Warren's work has been in low leverage situations. Warren's having his growing pains and he needs to work through them for the rest of this season. As an outside rotation candidate and the assumed returning long man for next season, the opportunity is right there for him to solidify his future roster standing.
(Photo courtesy of Getty Images)