SOUTH HILLS – While Opening Day was about as perfect as you could hope for from a Pirates’ perspective, this weekend series is really the fist intriguing must-see, match-up of the season. And what a way to start with two of the game’s best young right-handers in Shelby Miller and Gerrit Cole facing off. (Hopefully the weather cooperates.)
Last year the Pirates took the season series 10 game to nine vs. the Cardinals, and then pushed the Cardinals to the brink of elimination in the NLDS. Was a meaningful rivalry was born then?
I don’t see these teams going anywhere.
Consider the Cardinals have the fourth youngest Opening Day roster in baseball ( 27.4 years) and still have the No. 7 farm system , according to Baseball America, despite graduating talents like Michael Wacha and Carlos Martinez last season. We still haven’t seen the Cardinals’ most valuable asset in Oscar Taveras.
The Pirates have the game’s 11th youngest roster (28.3 years) but are soon to be stronger, and younger, thanks to the game’s No. 1 farm system, per Baseball America. See you in June, Gregory.
On a whole the NL Central appears to be on the brink of becoming a much tougher neighborhood as it’s the youngest division in baseball. The Central has five teams among the 12 youngest in baseball, which no other division can match.
THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS
OPENING DAY AGE
MLB RANK/TEAM/AVERAGE AGE
4. Cardinals 27.3
6. Cubs 28.0
10. Reds 28.2
11. Pirates 28.3
12. Milwaukee 28.4
And the division has the most talent in the minor league pipeline …
BASEBALL PROSPECTUS ORGANIZATIONAL TALENT RANKINGS
MLB RANK/ TEAMS
(OK, the Brewers aren’t in great shape … and Ryan Braun’s thumb issues put the Brewers in an even scarier position position )
So not only is the division the youngest this Opening Day after having sent three teams to the postseason in 2013 — but arguably no other division has more elite minor league talent on the horizon. On the whole this is staggering combination of youth and talent.
We know about the quality of the Cardinals, Pirates and Reds. The Cubs have an unreal collection of elite position prospects in the minors and have the money to bolster their staff through free agency. A decade of competitive baseball and meaningful rivalries in the poorest division in the NL? It’s more than possible it’s quite plausible.
It started last season and it begins again tonight.