An old dog learns some new tricks

Marquez hammered in Triple-A debut
Here comes the short stop debate

The big news out of the Bronx tonight was not a resounding Yankee win for the first time this season. It was rather a strained left quad.

Yankee fans the world over held their breaths as Derek Jeter left the game on Monday night. Word out of Yankee camp is that Jeter is day-to-day but will not land on the DL. He could miss up to a week of baseball after removing himself from the game with a strained quad. One of the quad muscles is, by and large, the best leg muscle to strain because the three others that make up that muscle group can bear some of the load. It’s never good to suffer a leg muscle strain, but it sounds like Jeter will be slowed but not stopped by this injury.

But the bigger news as far as I’m concerned from tonight’s game was Mike Mussina and his approach toward pitching. Last week, I took Mussina to task for his pitching performance against the Blue Jays. While he kept the team in the game, I wrote, his apparent over-reliance on mid-80s fastballs was bound to get him into trouble in the future. Moose, long accustomed to throwing fastballs by hitters, would have to adjust to find success in the Major Leagues at age 39.

And adjust he did. Mussina threw six very effective innings against a good offensive team. He gave up two hits and one run on a mistake to Jonny Gomes. He walked just one hitter and struck out three while surviving a few defensive miscues behind him.

But more important than the results were the ways he went about getting those results. Last week, Mussina threw nearly 60 percent fastballs with the fastest topping out at about 86 and most staying within the 83-84 range. This week, of the 76 pitches Advanced Gameday logged, 29 of them — or 38 percent of them — were fastballs, and some of those had zip on them. Mussina hit 88 once and 87 a few times while largely staying between 84-86 mph.

He threw a whole bunch of breaking balls for strikes and 11 pitches under 70 miles per hour with some nasty break to them. The results, predictably, were outs.

For Mike Mussina to win games this year, he will have to duplicate this process in start after start. I don’t expect him to go out there every five days and give up just one run on two hits. But if Mussina stays away from his fastball and employs the slow, slower, slowest approach to getting outs, there’s no reason why he can’t keep the Yankees in the game. From a fifth starter, that’s all we want, and for one start so far, this old dog showed that he could still learn a few new tricks.

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Marquez hammered in Triple-A debut
Here comes the short stop debate
  • Adrian-Retire21

    I love Jeter but I don’t think people held there breaths.If Mariano,A-Rod, or Wand and Pettitte was injured then we should worry.Yes a .340 avg with 50 double plays sound good but 15 homeruns and 60 rbi’s aint gonna stop the yankees.

  • http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=56352514 Jamal G.

    Wasn’t Derek Jeter once bigger than GOD according to Yankees fans? What the hell happened?

    Anyways, I loved what I saw from Moose as did all and he is proving what I’ve been saying since November, that August was overblown. From June 7 to August 11, Moose had a string of 12 starts wherein 11 of those starts he gave up 3 ER or less. Pretty damn good don’t you think? Also in the next 4 appearances (3 starts) after the three game debacle, he allowed just 5 ER in 23.2 innings.

  • http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=56352514 Jamal G.

    Perfect observation by PeteAbe, what a difference a year makes…

    “Did the Yankees actually give up one run in a game Mussina, Bruney, Hawkins and Farnsworth pitched? Dave Eiland is a genius.”

    • David

      Amazing what can happen when your manager will use the entire pen and not just his teacher’s pets.

      • http://pinstripealley.com Edwantsacracker

        In other news Scott Proctor has been in 4 of the Dodgers first 7 games.

  • http://deleted Seamus O’Toole

    moose’s curve in particular looked like it had a lot of bite to it. also, some nice tailing action on the change piece too.

  • http://yankeesetc.blogspot.com/ Travis G.

    anyone know of a website that compiles the pitch speeds for all pitchers for the current season?

    • Simon B.

      http://baseball.bornbybits.com/2008/pitchers.html

      Keep in mind, it’s VERY preliminary seeing as how most starting pitchers don’t even have two starts yet, and in fact, I don’t see any Yankee pitchers on there yet.

      I loved Mussina’s start tonight. His curve has been fabulous in his first two starts.

  • planet

    not worried at all about jeter;s injury, as it was said in the post, the quad is really the “best” muscle to suffer a minory injury to. even if its worse than expected and hes out 4-6 weeks, its the type of muscle that usually leaves no lagging effects once recovered from. a bit of rest and PT and you’re back at 100%, or you can usually play at 90% with it wrapped up. no worries over here…

  • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph P.

    Anyone think they’ll send down Shelley and bring up Alberto for the time being?

    • Yankee Fan in Chicago

      I was just about to post that. We need the atty general. He’s got the glove, and he could’nt look worse at the plate than WB did last night. Sheesh.

  • steve (different one)

    so wait, what you are telling me is that a 39 year old Mike Mussina picked up 2-3 MPH on his fastball from his first start to his second?

    don’t tell Pags or Lombardi. they think your velocity in your first start of the year in 30 degree weather is your max.

    • Mike P

      Quite. And by their reasoning, Mussina’s velocity should be down to 85 mph by the time he’s 49.

  • yanks99

    i think he hit 89 on the stadium gun once…i was in the bleachers

  • dookie

    Listen people, if Jamie Moyer can still get people out, so can the Moose. Mussina is a cerebral guy. Once May rolls around and he knows what his arm is going to give him, ole’ Mike is going to be just fine. Outside of LaTroy Hawkins, I have not seen anything from the Yankee pitching staff that should give even the most obnoxious Yankee fan a reason to complain.

    • nmc

      Heh… Jamie Moyer can barely get people out… Would you really want Jamie Moyer on your team?

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

      Jamie Moyer of the 5.01 ERA last season? There are a whole host of reasons why we don’t want to see Mussina “duplicate” what Moyer’s done.

  • Greg

    Jamie Moyer is “serviceable” as a 5th starter. I don’t think anyone wants Moose to be Moyer. However, Moyer at 45 ( or is it 46) keeps getting re-signed as a major league pitcher. Yet when Moose has 3 or 4 bad starts, some Yankee “fans” think he should be cut or has no business being employed as a pitcher anywhere. Some of the same people would actually want a terrible pitcher like David Wells or take Moyer, Wakefield, or any number of career 4.50+ ERA pitchers over Moose.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

      He’s serviceable as a fifth starter in the NL, and even then, most Phillies fans wouldn’t agree with that statement. As much as I don’t love Mussina, I’ll take him over Moyer any day of the year.

  • ac

    What I found a little bit curious was mentioned on ESPN last night about A-rod moving over to SS when Jeter’s probably hadn’t left the stadium to board the plane to KC. Something along the same lines was mentioned in the broadcast on the YES channel today. I know there has been stuff about the guy’s defensive play, but by God, the guy didn’t die, nor is on the DL. Must we always stir the pot or look for controversy in sports. Has sports become so soap-opera, hollywood tonight, that to sell sports we have to manufacture headlines daily?
    Moose looked good last night. (Gave me a warm fuzzy)

  • dookie

    Are you guys talking about the same Jamie Moyer that I am talking about? You know, the one that from age 38-40 went 54-21 with a 3.30 ERA over 655 innings pitched? Wouldn’t take that over Moose, huh? To be honest I think every GM in baseball would have taken that over Moose in his prime. That’s why they make the big bucks and you dunces sit here in a forum and make stupid comments bashing Jamie Moyer.

    You guys are talking about the same Jamie Moyer who has 200IP+ in each of the past seven seasons from age 38 to 45? Who needs a young stud like Phil Hughes for 150IP and a 5.00 ERA when you can get his father for 200IP and a 5.00 ERA? Jamie Moyer can exit a game in the seventh after giving up five runs just as effectively as Ian Kennedy and Phil Hughes can get yanked in the 3rd after being torqued all over the park.

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