When thinking of young, talented pitching, the Yankees might not be the first team that comes to mind. They might not be the first New York team that comes to mind. Not that it would have hurt when Luis Severino spun up six shutout innings yesterday for his fifth promising major league start in five tries. Early days for the 21 year old phenom but he's off to a great start in his major league career. Even if he was the only relatively youthful Yankee starter to show promise, it would not be the worst thing. Helpfully, though, he isn't.
As strong as Severino's early days in the major league rotation have been, should Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi be asked to name their top-3 starters heading into September they would almost certainly come back to Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda and Nathan Eovaldi. None of the three older than 26. Relative veteran Dellin Betances might have a case for best reliever in baseball at 27 years old. This quartet would be valued contributors on any team in the league.
The relatively youthful designation is to some extent subjective, and hence arbitrary. Perhaps you'd have a lower age there, or a higher one. I chose 27 partially as it is the average age of the youngest roster in the league, the Arizona Diamondbacks; on no squad in the MLB would Dellin Betances be older than his average teammate. He is also younger than average among all Triple-A players, interestingly, though this is certainly driven up by the veterans held there in reserve. Mostly though, it is hardly as though every team in baseball is rich with under-27 contributors to the pitching staff. In fact, no team is as rich as the Yankees here, save only the Dodgers.
Los Angeles has 13.7 WAR from pitchers 27 and younger, half that unsurprisingly coming from Clayton Kershaw who somehow still qualifies despite making his debut in 2008. After the Dodgers, the Yankees have the strength of their version of the Fab Four, the contributions of Adam Warren before he turned 28 five days ago, some help from the bullpen, and 0.6 WAR already from Severino. The Yankees here rate higher than the Rays, the White Sox, even their cross-town rivals the Mets.
Certainly, the Yankees are a veteran ballclub. The lineup is built on experienced sluggers, who have generally had strong 2015 performances. Even through a collective August hitting slump though - the top-5 offense on the year was 27th in wRC+ for the month - the Yankees stayed a near .500 team on the back of its pitching staff. This was crucial to even remain in touch with the surging Blue Jays. Having an 8 game lead late in July turn into a 1.5 game deficit in late August may not seem ideal, but should the run prevention unit have slumped to match the run scoring, this division could be out of reach already, as opposed to still being very much in the balance.
The lineup will need to rebound in September for the team to have any chance of running down the blazing hot team from the Great White North, but as injury and the wear-and-tear of a long season takes its toll on the veteran hitters it is unlikely that the offense will solely be enough to win this suddenly ultra-competitive division. Helpfully, the talented and largely young pitching staff should be able to more than carry their share of the load in 2015. Beyond that, with the cream of the current under-27 crop under team control through at least 2017, hopefully the best days remain ahead for the Yankee pitching core.