Adam Warren deserves the ball in Game 1
Most recently, Adam Warren was the man responsible for keeping Thames in the yard and off the basepaths. It came in a 2-1 victory over the Fisher Cats that clinched the Thunder’s spot in the Eastern League playoffs and pushed their lead in the Eastern Division to 2 1/2 games.
It also, in my mind, cemented Warren as the man who should take the ball against New Hampshire when the division series begins on Sept. 8.
As Randy Boone hung zeroes on the Thunder, Warren seemed to kick it into another gear. He worked quickly and, after allowing a run on a wild pitch in the first, went to work devouring the meat of New Hampshire’s order.
Combined, the Fisher Cats’ 2 through 8 hitters were 0-for-16 against Warren with six strikeouts, two of which came against Thames.
Tuesday night’s outing, which fell on Warren’s 23rd birthday, also served as an encore to the performance he turned in seven days prior.
He fanned a Thunder record-setting 15 Baysox that night, prompting manager Tony Franklin to heap praise upon the right-hander.
That’s pretty good stuff. That’s major league-type stuff, front-line, major league, first-division, pennant contending team-type stuff,” Franklin said.
Lately, Warren’s arm has been backing up his skipper’s words. Over his last two starts, his numbers look like this: 13 innings, five hits, one run (earned), two walks and an incredible 21 strikeouts.
When I spoke with him during the All-Star break, after he’d been promoted to Trenton, here’s how he described his attitude on the mound:
“I basically just try to go after hitters and use a bulldog mentality. I try to pound the zone low in the zone to get ground balls and try to work as fast as I can.”
That bulldog mentality, as he describes it, will serve him well against a team that has knocked the Thunder around all season long. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s done it before.
Warren was given the starting assignment in the opening game of the Staten Island Yankees’ opening-round set. That night he limited the Lowell Spinners to two runs over 4 2/3 innings, and struck out eight.
Although he didn’t pick up the win, Warren’s effort kept the SI Yanks in the game long enough to mount a comeback victory.
That’s exactly what he’ll need to do against the Fisher Cats in a few weeks.
In a few days, when the major league roster limit expands to 40, there could be more changes in store for the Thunder, specifically when it comes to the bullpen.
Scranton relievers Jonathan Albaladejo and Romulo Sanchez are likely to join the Yankees, which means two arms would have to leave the Thunder’s pen.
George Kontos, who is working his way back from Tommy John surgery, is one obvious candidate. Josh Schmidt, who has been excellent over the majority of the last two seasons with Trenton, is the other.
If that happens, expect Pat Venditte and Jonathan Ortiz to make their way north.
Everybody familiar with the Yankees system has heard of Venditte, the switch pitcher who has been knocking on Double-A’s door all year. He’s allowed just 44 hits and has struck out 81 over 69 innings with High-A Tampa, and seems more than ready for a promotion.
With a 6-1 record, 2.49 ERA and 56 punchouts in 50 2/3 innings, Ortiz has nearly matched Venditte’s gaudy numbers, and would be a fitting addition to the back end of the Thunder’s bullpen.
Brandon Laird, who racked up 23 home runs and 90 RBIs before earning call to Triple-A, earned the nod at third base on the Eastern League’s postseason All-Star squad.
For the second straight season, Schmidt will pitch in the Venezuelan Winter League.
As a starter with the Aguilas de Zulia last year, the right-hander was 2-5 with a 3.58 ERA, including a complete-game shutout.