Two weeks ago, I interviewed Yankees ace CC Sabathia and Red Sox 1B Adrian Gonzalez in New York City. One of the things that we spoke about was breakout players: Who did they have their eyes on for a big year in 2012?
Like Gonzalez, Sabathia stayed close to home and did not single out only one player.
"Our rotation. We have a lot of good arms and it's going to be a good competition," he said. "Pitching is the strength of our team and we all need to be at the top of our games."
While CC didn't want to name anyone specifically, I will: Michael Pineda, the newest addition to the Yankees starting rotation.
Pineda started hot out of the gate for the Seattle Mariners in 2011, earning an All-Star berth before fading down the stretch. He finished 2011 with a 9-10 record, 3.74 ERA and 1.10 WHIP in 171 innings pitched over 28 starts.
With Seattle, Pineda pitched for a team that scored 556 runs last season, the fewest in all of baseball.
With the Yankees, Pineda will be pitching for a team that scored 867 runs in 2011, second only to the Boston Red Sox, who beat them out by eight.
Granted, pitching in Yankee Stadium is drastically different than pitching in Safeco Field, so Pineda is sure to pay for his mistakes—but he has one of the best lineups in baseball to help atone for those mistakes.
The only thing that can stop Pineda from having a breakout 2012 is Pineda.