I alluded to this in last night's game recap, so you should probably read that first if you want to read this post in the proper context. Adam Warren made his 4th start of the young season last night and it was the first start that you'd call good. Before last night, Warren had struggled to translate last year's relief success back to a starting role. He wasn't pitching deep into games, he wasn't getting a lot of whiffs or strikeouts, and his stuff seemed much more hittable than it did last year. There was talk before the season about whether Warren was better suited to work as a reliever, where he could highlight his best pitches and air out his fastball, and his early SSS results back up those points. So with April almost over and Warren the clear "worst" pitcher in the rotation, is it already time to ask if he's pitching for his spot? Consider what's happening tonight. Chase Whitley is getting the call up to make a spot start, something Joe said he was planning to do to give the Tanakas and Sabathias of the world a little more rest during this long stretch of games. Whitley was hot and cold in his 12 starts last year, but pitched well in ST and has looked pretty good in his first 3 Triple-A starts. We already know he would be easy to plug into Warren's spot based on timing. If he looks good tonight and continues to pitch effectively in Triple-A while Warren continues to struggle to make 3 turns through a batting order, Joe could make the switch.
There's also the man whose spot Warren took when he got injured late in the spring. Chris Capuano has been rehabbing from his quad strain and returned to game action last week, pitching a few innings in an Extended Spring Training game. He's on track for a mid-late May return from the DL and I don't think Joe would look to use him out of the bullpen once he comes back. He's already got plenty of lefties.
Further down the road, there's the return of Ivan Nova to consider. Nova has been throwing batting practice for a few weeks now, and he was also scheduled to pitch in a simulated game over the weekend. Early June has been his target return date for a while, and he's right on track to meet that. No reason to expect that the Yankees will want to use him as a reliever when he returns.
Which is exactly what they can do with Warren. They already know he can handle that role and they watched him thrive in it last year. The Yankee bullpen is stacked at the moment, but another quality arm in place of someone like Esmil Rogers would be a significant upgrade and upgrades are always welcome. The reality is that Warren probably isn't pitching for his rotation spot just yet. Whitley isn't going to take over based on 1 start and the other 2 guys are weeks away from being a threat. Warren is going to get at least another handful of starts to prove he can be better than he's been. But check back in a couple weeks. If he's still struggling to get through 5-6 innings and Capuano is ready to come back, I think it would be a simple and logical move to make.