You hear the snarky jabs all the time: "Wow look at those old and overpaid Yankees" or "The Yankees get their checks from the team and Social Security". Well, maybe not those lines precisely but cracks about the vast "experience" of the Yankees roster is an annual occurrence. And while this is the oldest roster in the league, the next three games are all about the excitement and volatility of youth. After the veterans CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda took their turns in Game One and Two of this season-opening series against the Astros , it will be the trio of Ivan Nova (age 27), Masahiro Tanaka (25) and Michael Pineda (25) that get their first chances of the new year to impress. Only Tanaka is technically considered a rookie, but I would argue they all bring the excitement and trepidation that comes with any highly touted young pitcher.
So it's three days in a row of young arms with impressive stuff we have to look forward to. Nova will feature a sneaky two-seamer and solid breaking ball, Tanaka will sport perhaps the nastiest splitter of any known human and Pineda will showcase a lovely slider. And from a viewing standpoint, there's nothing better than sitting back and watching a pitcher with an impressive repertoire rear back and make opposing batters look silly. All three pitchers have the potential ability to rack up strikeouts at an above-average pace.
Obviously there are concerns. Not one of these guys is what you would consider a "sure thing". Tanaka's never pitched an inning in MLB (in case you hadn't heard), Nova has been wildly inconsistent throughout his career and Pineda has not pitched in over two years. As the season unfolds, these concerns may manifest themselves into some tangible, negative results. But for the time being, I'm incredibly excited to see what these guys can do. They all have very high ceilings and I'm going to bet on them reaching them until they've convinced me otherwise.
Honestly, there's no real reason to be anything other than optimistic. I've found myself somewhat amused at the attempts of various projection systems to determine what exactly is to be expected of these three. An admirable attempt with no MLB (or even MiLB) numbers for two of them in the past two or more seasons. And Nova was two completely different pitchers last year, so splitting the difference between Jekyll and Hyde seems as precise as throwing darts behind your back. For what's it worth, Fangraphs has Tanaka pegged for 4.4 fWAR, Nova for 2.2 and Pineda for 1. I don't think it would be that surprising if all three beat those marks.
So let's get pumped up as we get to see not only pitchers that are invaluable to the success of the 2014 Yankees but also the organization's future. With CC Sabathia tossing batting practice and Hiroki Kuroda always contemplating retirement, these three gentlemen could form the backbone of the Yankees rotation for the next couple of years. For the time being, I'll just be happy with a three game winning streak.