For years we’ve heard about how old the Yankees are getting. Aging Yankees have seen their names scribbled in criticism all over baseball articles season after season. Admittedly they have a point. Having too many players on the wrong side of 30 is not ideal for baseball franchises who need to build for the future as well as the present. Just ask the reporters over in Philadelphia who have been having a field day picking apart a Phillies’ team that seems to just be getting older by the day. Here in the Bronx, something has very quietly been in the works that could help guide the Yankees into a new youth movement. We’ve watched with green faces of envy while teams like the Washington Nationals showcased a collection of young studs in their starting rotation, while ours have not gotten any younger. Well, envy no more because now the Yankees have taken huge steps towards building a young rotation full of talented starters. Now… it’s time for the future.
It all started August 23, 2010 when a 23-year-old Ivan Nova made his first Major League start for the New York Yankees. He was very impressive in 5 1/3 innings pitched and had people in New York wondering, “Who’s this guy on the Yanks”? In 2011 they found out as pitched to a 16-4 record and came in fourth in the American League Rookie of the Year voting. While he’s hit some speed bumps in his career, he returned to his 2011 form at the end of 2013 and the 27-year-old is expected to be a big part of the Yankees rotation during the upcoming season.
Before the start of the of the 2012 season, the Yankees acquired Seattle Mariners’ pitching phenom Michael Pineda. New York fans were pumped to add a young arm like Pineda to the rotation and big expectations were placed upon him. Those dreams came crashing down when the pitcher injured his shoulder and missed all of the 2012 and 2013 seasons. Now, the 25-year-old is back and he’s ready to finally throw a pitch in a Yankees’ uniform. He is turning a lot of heads in spring training and has been one of the best arms in Yankees camp so far. Pineda is seen as the front runner to secure the rotation’s 5th starter spot.
Last year, a great pitcher in Andy Pettitte retired from baseball at the age of 41 and sent the Yankees scrambling for a starter to replace him in the rotation. It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t cheap, but a perfect storm hit when an ace from Japan set his sights on a U.S. team. With money freed up from Alex Rodriguez’s suspension, the Yankees went out and spent $175 million dollars on the highly coveted 25-year-old, Masahiro Tanaka, bringing him to the Bronx in hopes that he’ll soon be a superstar. The Yankees’ newest weapon has looked awesome so far this spring and all of baseball is excited to see what he can do.
So, with three very talented pitchers under the age of 30 the Yankees have constructed the beginning of a young and highly effective pitching staff. Here in 2014 the top two pitchers in the rotation are 33-year-old C.C. Sabathia and 39-year-old Hiroki Kuroda. Sabathia had a poor season last year and Kuroda has hinted at retirement for some time now and many suspect that 2014 may be his final year in baseball. So in a few seasons, the Yankees will boast a rotation that could look very good with three key arms already locked up and making an impact.
But here is where the work needs to continue. When Sabathia and Kuroda are gone, the Yankees will need to fill two holes at the back end of the rotation. Hey, they’ve come this far, they can keep going. Word around baseball is that many teams are shopping young pitching and the Yankees may be willing to strike a deal for a few arms and try to develop them further for the future. The Yankees also have a few internal options with pitchers David Phelps, Vidal Nuno, and Adam Warren all making very good impressions this spring. Those three are each viable options to fill out the rotation in the near future. Minor League starters like Jose Ramirez, Ian Clarkin, Luis Severino, Brian Mitchell, and Rafael De Paula all could be big league starters in the future and Manny Banuelos is still looking to reach the Yankees after he and the other Killer B’s have faltered in recent years.
So keep thinking the Yankees are old and brittle. Poke fun at the aging superstars and have a nice long chuckle about it. Don’t look now, because they are getting younger and they are getting more and more talented. Laugh it up now, because the next generation of young pitching studs will be wearing pinstripes very soon.