It seems a little strange that the Cubs traded a 26-year old infielder who went nuclear in the season’s last two months for a pitcher that is going to be nothing more than a swingman this season. So you’d have to conclude that the Cubs have bigger plans for Warren than just what he’ll be this year, which is something of a right-handed Travis Wood. While we’ve had the debate over whether Ben Zobrist will provide more than Starlin Castro might have (probably will this year, maybe not in two years), it’s time to figure out what Adam Warren is for the Cubs this year.
Adam Warren’s 2015
43 appearances/17 starts/131.1 innings/7.13 K per 9/2.68 BB per 9/0.69 HR per 9/.278 BABIP/74.7 LOB%/45.2 GB%/8.3 HR per FB%/3.29 ERA/3.59 FIP/2.1 WAR
When studying Warren, it’s probably better to flush out what his stats are just as a reliever, as that’s what he’s primarily going to be this season unless there are a lot of injuries in the rotation.
Warren As Reliever
35. 1 innings/2.29 ERA/.208 AVG against/9.42 K per 9/2.29 BB per 9/0.51 HR per 9/1.02 WHIP/2.71 FIP
As you can see, he’s a lot better out of the pen than he was as a starter, at least for last year. He strikes out more guys, walks less, throws harder, gives up less homers and less hard contact (though his line-drive rate balloons as a reliever, but his fly ball rate drops a lot so that’s probably where that shakes out). These aren’t any outliers either, as in 2014 when Warren was used exclusively as a reliever in The Bronx he put up a 2.98 FIP with similar numbers elsewhere. Clearly, he’s a weapon out of the pen.
As we saw with Wood, when coming out of the pen Warren can blow it out more. Whereas over all of 2015 saw Warren’s average velocity at 92.5 MPH. simply out of the pen last year (from July 1st on) he was averaging 94.8 MPH. As he went along Warren dropped his use of a slider and upped the use of his change and curveball, and having all four these is why he’s probably viewed as a starter long-term. In 2014, he actually threw harder when used solely as a reliever.
It’s Warren’s change that is the real weapon, with a +7.8 rating on FanGraphs. But he throws all four pitches.
Warren can break either way. He’s insurance if a starter or two gets hurt. He’s insurance if Grimm or Strop or even Rondon are ineffective or injured as well. If everyone’s healthy, then he’s handling the 6th or 7th inning. He’s going to be another swiss army knife for Maddon to play with, to go with Cahill and Wood.
Still, given what Castro provided at the end of last year I find it hard to believe that Warren is going to be exclusively a reliever for his whole Cubs career. He doesn’t profile as a future closer, though I suppose anyone can be a closer if you think about it. He’s just another layer to the Cubs depth all over the field.
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