Is another rotation shakeup in the works?With Vidal Nuno struggling, Yankees could ask Adam Warren to join rotation
The Yankees' rotation has been so decimated by injuries this season that an eighth starter, nominally Chase Whitley, has already become a reality, and with Vidal Nuno - who himself was the sixth man - struggling so much as of late, talk has percolated that former starter turned bullpen stalwart Adam Warren could become lucky number nine to take a starting turn.
Right now that talk is just talk, as Joe Girardi said Wednesday that the team is "still on track with the rotation," meaning Vidal Nuno and his 5.90 ERA will still start as scheduled Saturday. Warren also said Wednesday that he hasn't heard any scuttlebutt from anyone who can or will make that call - but if he does, he's more than ready.
"A few people have asked about it, but I'm just trying to take things day-by-day and concentrating on being in the bullpen right now," Warren said. "I'm definitely open to it, though, because I've always wanted to be a starter."
When probed further, Warren said all the right things, noting that he still sees himself as a starter long-term because "that's how I came up" but that he's concentrating on relief because that's his role.
Nuno, who hasn't won a game since May 7 and is now 1-3 with that 5.90 ERA this season after Sunday's rough start in Oakland, did the same; he's seemingly the first in line to get bumped if anyone gets added to the rotation, but he still feels he's up to the challenge.
"Every time out, I just have to produce, or else someone will pass you," he said. "It's just the nature of the game and it's in the back of my mind. I've been working on stuff day in and day out, but I need to make pitches; that's the bottom line."
Of course, the Yankees' skipper was mum on the whole deal, and acknowledged that even if Nuno (or anyone else) feels they're in a do-or-die performance mode, he himself will never let that be known.
"I don't ever put that type of pressure on people, because I don't think it's fair to send someone out there like that; I don't call guys into my office and say "hey, your job is on the line," because I don't think that's fair," Girardi said. "They understand what's on the line every day and that this is a performance-based business, so they have to go out and perform."
Nuno's next two scheduled starts are both at Yankee Stadium, where he is 0-2 with a 7.36 ERA this year. To his part, he acknowledged that some of those struggles come from leaving balls up in the zone - which, at Yankee Stadium means they get hit hard and often for extra bases - and he knows that he needs to be more consistent with his cutter, which he said Wednesday he felt he found a good grip for and hopes to carry it over into Saturday.
If he can't, it seems the eyes will be upon him, and with Michael Pineda still not throwing and CC Sabathia just two bullpen sessions (and three by Saturday) into his own rehab, there may be a need sooner rather than later.
In the past, Girardi has acknowledged that he would be willing to stretch Warren in the major leagues like he did with sort of how Joba Chamberlain did in 2008, saying that "you would just do it slow, almost like in spring training." To that, Warren noted that he could give 40-45 pitches right now and "would probably add 15 each time" - meaning it would take him four or five starts to be fully stretched - and he even knows that he would have to change his mindset if he were to move back into that role.
"It's surely a more difficult transition than it seems. You have to work on setting up hitters and facing them more than once, whereas in the bullpen you're just trying to get guys out one time," he said. "You maybe lose a little velocity because you can't throw as hard right away, so you have to be a little more careful with your fastball."
It sure sounds like Warren is ready if his name is called, although after a strong two-inning, three-strikeout performance in back of Chase Whitley on Wednesday, he may have made the decision even harder.
Regardless of that, the fact of the matter is that with CC Sabathia likely to be ready to go right after the All-Star break and Michael Pineda hopefully not too far behind, the Yankees simply have to figure out whether Warren would be the best option to be the No. 4 or 5 starter the rest of the way.
From the sounds of it, somebody knows something, but no one's saying anything.
"Things aren't really up in the air with me, what we're going to do. Obviously there are discussions and I have my thoughts when we talk about it as an organization, but we're on rotation right now," Girardi said.