In a recurring feature of the blog, we play the always fun "Over-Under Game," in which we will set the line for a player and a stat and ask you to weigh in.
The Player: Michael Pineda
The number: 15 wins
The scouting report: Pineda became a Yankee on the tumultuous Friday, Jan. 13, when he came over from the Mariners in exchange for Jesus Montero on the same night the Yankees came to terms with Hiroki Kuroda, ostensibly plugging all the holes in their rotation in one fell swoop.
Coming to New York as a 23-year-old pitcher with just one season under his belt carries a significant amount of pressure on its own. Throw in the expectation that Pineda will eventually be the No. 2 starter behind CC Sabathia , and the fact that he cost the Yankees Montero, the most highly-touted bat in their organization, and you're looking at a potential nuclear meltdown in the Bronx.
Pineda is huge (6-7, 280) and hugely talented, but he pitched in the comparatively pitcher-friendly confines of Safeco Field and now moves to homer-happy Yankee Stadium 3.0. Plus, as GM Brian Cashman pointed out the other day, the Yankees believe Pineda still needs to add a changeup to his fastball-slider repertoire to become a successful big-league starter. That might account for Pineda's second half drop-off in 2011, when he went 1-4 with a 5.12 ERA after starting out 8-6, 3.03. So may have the workload, 171 IP in his rookie season.
In any event, Pineda was hurt by the weak Mariners' offense, which scored the fewest runs in the league, and will no doubt benefit from the Yankees lineup, which scored the second most. Then again, as a fly ball pitcher -- only five pitchers in baseball surrendered a higher percentage of fly balls than Pineda in 2011 --he is bound to be victimized by the short fences and helpful air currents in Yankee Stadium.
So how many wins are we looking at for Pineda in 2012?
I set the over/under at 15. And I'm picking the under. Between adjusting to the media and fan demands of New York City and contending with working in a hitter's park, I'm thinking 14 wins for Pineda in his first season as a Yankee.
But what I think isn't important. What do you think Michael Pineda will do in his first season in pinstripes? Let us know below.