You’re better to fall in love with a stripper than a rookie, because they’ll break your heart.
- Greg Blache, Former NFL Defensive Coordinator, postgame 2008
If Mr. Blache has been watching the 2013 MLB Postseason he might not feel the same way about rookies. The Cardinals and Red Sox are tied at 1 game each in the World Series thanks in large part to 21 year old St. Louis rookie pitcher Michael Wacha. Wacha has been dominate in 4 starts this postseason, posting a perfect 4-0 record and a miniscule 1.00 ERA. The Cardinals have also gotten big contributions from rookie relievers Carlos Martinez and Trevor Rosenthal. The Cardinals aren’t the only team that has seen rookie pitchers shine this postseason. Gerrit Cole of the Pirates and Sonny Gray of the A’s both pitched gems in the Divisional Series and both saw their teams turn to them for a deciding Game 5. Although their respective teams lost those deciding games both Cole and Gray acquitted themselves quite well. It should not be surprise that the story of the 2013 MLB playoffs has been the impact of rookie pitchers because this was really the story during the entire regular season too. Cole, Shelby Miller also of the Cardinals, and Julio Teheran of the Braves all posted fine rookie seasons that in most years would have been good enough for Rookie of the Year Honors. However they were all overshadowed by the Marlins Jose Fernandez. Fernandez was so good he earned an All Star bid. His 12-6 record on a very poor team, 2.19 ERA, and 187 strikeouts in just 172.2 innings is arguably one of the greatest rookie seasons a pitcher has ever had. You would have to go back to Dwight Gooden in 1984 to find a comparable rookie campaign. None of these pitchers are old rookies either. At just 23 Sonny Gray is the oldest.
With the success of the 2013 rookie class of pitchers the bar has been set extremely high for the next wave of talented rookie hurlers. The expectation is that highly rated prospect Jameson Taillon will make his major league debut in Pittsburgh sometime during the summer of 2014. Nick Kingham and Tyler Glasnow are top rated pitchers in the Pirates minor league system that are soon to follow Taillon. This next wave of phenoms will be hard pressed to match the early success that Gerrit Cole experienced with the Pirates during 2013. What these rookie pitchers did in 2013 was abnormal. The expectations for Jameson Taillon should be tempered. Taillon has the stuff to be an ace but if anyone is expecting him to pitch like one in 2014 they will likely be disappointed. Rookies don’t usually pitch like aces, they usually just pitch like rookies.