It was a season of trials and tribulations for everyone in 2021 – fans included – but amidst the injury-fated bullpen, rookie reliever Austin Warren made a strong case as to why he belongs in the Halos 2022 opening rotation. And he did it with just 16 games under his belt.
Initially signed by the Angels in 2018, the right-handed pitcher made his major league debut on July 29, 2021. With his family cheering him on from the stands, Warren took the field with bases loaded and quickly steadied the bullpen after 1.1 innings of hitless relief against the Oakland A’s. His cool-under-pressure performance made for a strong start to his MLB career, effectively marking him as one of the players fans should look out for.
After the fire and precision of his July debut, the question surrounding Warren shifted – was he capable of bringing that fire to every performance on the mound? Well, his August track record put that question to bed almost instantly. The fire that fans saw on that July game day continued to yield impressive results for the rookie.
The righty’s best performance of the month earned him his first major league victory against the Angels’ crosstown rivals, the Los Angeles Dodgers, on August 6. After pitching 2.1 innings of relief, Warren walked away with an impressive 1.50 ERA and 1 hit allowed, securing the Angels victory during a close 4-3 game.
His September run saw a swift decrease in appearances after a positive COVID-19 test benched him for the majority of the month. However, even after his recovery and return in late September, Warren exhibited the same strong skill set that caught fans’ attention in July – adding resiliency to his long list of valuable qualities as a pitcher. His clean winning record continued throughout the month as he earned two more wins against the Houston Astros – where he logged a career-high 1.47 ERA – and the Texas Rangers.
In his pitching repertoire this season, his go-to pitch varied between a slider and his 4-seam fastball which averaged just shy of 94 MPH. Both pitches put away roughly 25% of batters and each proved to be more useful against right handed batters. Also in his arsenal was his sinker which was the most effective pitch he unleashed on batters this season and his rare changeup which only made up about 9 pitches total last year.
After 20.1 innings pitched, the 25-year-old reliever made the most of his time in the 2021 spotlight, recording a 1.77 ERA, a 1.03 WHIP and a seamless 3-0 record.
3 Wins / 0 Losses / 1.77 ERA / 16 Games / 20.1 Innings Pitched / 1 Save / 20 Strikeouts / 5 Walks 1.03 WHIP / .9 WAR / 16 Hits Allowed / 5 Runs Allowed / 0 Home Runs Allowed
Best Performance of the Year
July 29 vs. Oakland A’s
As far as solid performances go, Warren gave fans plenty of moments that could easily fit into this category, but there’s nothing quite like watching a player claim their spot during an MLB debut, and right from the first pitch, Warren proved he was ready to compete. The game against the A’s ended in a 0-4 loss for the Halos, but that didn’t stop Warren from surprising fans with 1.1 innings of hitless relief and even a sprinkle of defensive action.
2022 Roster Status
Warren walked into this season with a spark that the bullpen desperately needed, and despite his brief 16-game run, fans will have a chance to watch that spark fan into a flame next season as he continues to make his presence known in the Halos relief game. With his contract under team control for the next two years and four arbitration years, the UNC Wilmington alumni won’t be up for free agency until 2028. And as the organization continues to focus money on strong starting pitchers and even stronger closing arms like Raisel Iglesias and Aaron Loup, the relief game could benefit from Warren’s consistency and fire on the hill. When it comes to spring training, Warren’s 2021 season ticket is a good indicator that his name should not be skipped over in conversations about 2022’s opening day rotation.