ANAHEIM, Calif. - On merit alone, Adam Warren should be the last Yankee removed from the rotation.

But far more than that went into the Yankees' decision, not the least of which is that Warren, the club's best starter for the last five weeks, at some point would have been taken out of the rotation anyway.

The 27-year-old righthander, 5-5 with a 3.59 ERA, already has thrown a career-high 82 2/3 big-league innings, surpassing the 782/3 he threw last season when he was a top reliever.

"There's a concern if he keeps going, you worry about injury and having to shut him down and not having him at all," Joe Girardi said before Tuesday night's game. "I just know at the rate he's going to end up around 180, 190 [innings] and that's too many."

Girardi said he could see Warren reaching 130 innings by the season's end. The organization still sees Warren as a starter -- as does the pitcher -- and he could be bumped to 175 innings next year.

Warren, as he proved last year when he posted a 2.97 ERA in 69 appearances, can be a valuable bullpen weapon. One that the Yankees, whose rotation has not pitched consistently deep into games this season, can use.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

"He's done a great job in the rotation, but he can maybe help us four times a week and then maybe you strengthen your bullpen," Girardi said. "And the one thing we have not gotten a lot of is distance from our starters. So if you have a bullpen that every night they can give you four effective innings and it becomes a five-inning game, you might end up being better that way."

Warren, informed of the club's call before Monday night's game against the Angels, said he understood the decision and knew it was inevitable with Ivan Nova recently being reinserted into the rotation.

Still, it wasn't easy to hear.

"I was a little frustrated at first because I want to be a starter," Warren said. "But I understood. I understood where they're coming from. I told them I'm not going to be unhappy in the bullpen."

Warren said part of the frustration is the "groove" he felt he was starting to get into as a starter. In his last six starts, Warren is 3-2 with a 2.82 ERA. It is by far the best stretch among the starters. CC Sabathia is 1-1 with a 5.45 ERA in his last six starts; Nathan Eovaldi is 3-1, 5.76, and Michael Pineda is 3-3, 4.87. Masahiro Tanaka, in five starts since coming off the DL June 3, is 2-2 with a 4.35 ERA.

Yankees videos

Girardi said there was no consideration of taking someone else from the rotation and putting them in the bullpen.

"They want me to pitch for the big-league team and I'm definitely pleased about that," Warren said. "I've told you guys so many times, I just want to win and wherever I am, that's what I want to do."

With Dellin Betances closing, at least until Andrew Miller gets back from injury, and lefties Justin Wilson and Chasen Shreve excelling, Warren for now doesn't seem to have a late-inning role.

"Hopefully maybe [I'll] take some of the workload off of those guys," Warren said. "I feel like those guys have been worked pretty hard lately and they have a ton of games already and it's only halfway, so if I can just take some of the workload off of them, that's kind of the goal."