A clinic in pitching

Game 32: Age, youth square off
Marshals under investigation for protecting Buck and McCarver

A short wrap-up for you because I’m heading off to the new beer garden in Prospect Heights: Mike Mussina is thriving this year not because he’s a better pitcher but because he’s pitching better. It’s a subtle difference, but what we’re seeing this year is a clinic in pitching by an old master who many of us — including me — had written off. Mike Mussina has learned how to use his killer breaking pitches and the “slow, slower, slowest” approach to set up an average fastball. His striking out the side in the sixth was masterful.

So now, over his last three starts, Mussina has given the Yankees 18 innings. He’s allowed 18 hits while walking just two batters and striking out 10. He’s 3-0 over that span, and his ERA is 2.50. I, for one, am enjoying the career resurgence of Mussina, and I’m happy to see that I was wrong in calling him a dead Moose a little under a month ago.

Game 32: Age, youth square off
Marshals under investigation for protecting Buck and McCarver
  • http://www.impatientsufferance.com Mischa G

    What, the Astoria beer gardens aren’t good enough for you? hehehe

  • Mike P

    Gloat.

  • Simon B.

    I was all ready to gloat about Mussina’s success in your postgame post, and now you’re being all magnanimous in conceding there might be something left in Mussina’s arm.

    It takes a lot of the pleasure out of it, you know.

  • Simon B.

    Also, I’m psyched about Edwar. I know he didn’t look particularly good today by walking two, but he’s generally been very solid.

    I’ve always maintained that Edwar just really needs to get his legs under him and then he’ll be fine in the majors. I hope he proves me right because he could be downright dominant as a set-up man.

  • Jorge Steinbrenner

    had no idea about Franklin Park. i can walk there. hope the pics on their site aren’t too strategically taken. thanks for the link.

  • LiveFromNewYork

    We all know that Moose is a smart guy. I’m sure he’s studied the art of adjustment. And he doesn’t seem to be letting his emotions get to him. He’ll be damned if he’s going to limp out of his career. He’s determined to do this year right. Maybe coming out of the pen in September was good for him — but he was good out of the pen.

    But starting pitching is so much more important than coming out of the pen. (hint to Joba in the pen fans).

    • mustang

      Wait a minute isn’t Moose the guy who was supposed to be pushed to the long man role to make room for Joba.
      Oh! I forgot they don’t have to do that now with having one soon to be two spots in the rotation that people are auditioning for.
      Heeeeeeeee.

    • mustang

      Comparing Moose to Joba out of the pen.
      OK… Alrighty then.

      • Jeremy

        That was not a comparison.

        Starting pitching is more important than relief.

        Reading comprehension is worth a bit.

  • JRVJ

    Frankly, this is the best I’ve seen Moose pitch in a solid while. Now it could be that Moose had great stuff today, but Pete Abe reported that Dave Eiland (the new Yankee pitching coach) has been pushing Moose to make certain adjustments which seem pretty obvious.

    The question would be why Stottlemyre and Guidry were unwilling (or perhaps unable) to get Moose to change his style.

    Now granted, it could be that Moose was too darn stubborn, but some credit should go to Eiland….

    • A.D.

      Probably Moose’s record & success deteriorated enough that Moose realized he couldn’t continue on the same path

  • Steve

    Sounds like Jamie Moyer to me . . . . . .

  • Steve

    “Mike Mussina has learned how to use his killer breaking pitches and the “slow, slower, slowest” approach to set up an average fastball.”

    Sounds like Jamie Moyer to me . . . . . .

    • steve (different one)

      shades of Moyer, but not quite.

      Moose’s fastball hit 87 pretty consistently today and his last pitch was 88.

      when you have 2-3 breaking balls and a solid change, you can get by with 87-88.

      • Steve

        My point about Jamie Moyer was two fold. First, Hank got killed in the media for saying that about Moyer, meanwhile everyone knew Mussina had to change the way he pitches. Which was Hank’s point. He had to stop trying to strike guys out and start ‘pitching to contact’, which is what Moyer does.

        Moose has made an adjustment, which should buy him some short term success. Now lets see what happens when the league adjusts back. But if he can keep this up, he could pitch for a few more years and possibly chase 300 wins. Which a month ago nobody thought was possible.

        • steve (different one)

          agreed.

  • mustang

    Damn, I was ready for a fight. LOL
    I totally agree with the thread.
    I like to add that you have to give him credit for his approach entering spring training. Even with an 11 million dollar contract and 250 wins he came in thinking that he had to fight for a spot in the rotation. I think that type of mind set has transferred over to the mound and has made him a better pitcher.

  • Adam

    Let’s not forget that Mussina was also extremely unlucky last year (his ERA was 5.15 while his DIPS ERA was 3.93). This year he has actually been slightly lucky. Based on his indicator stats, it looks like he is pitching pretty much the same as last year, just seeing better results.

    • Steve

      I disagree. This year, he’s a completely different pitcher. He’s using the slow curve more, working inside and up in the zone more, its night and day. Last year he was getting hit hard consistently, this year your seeing a lot more easy GB/FB. Last year he was trying to strike guys out and failing. I’ve heard him interviewed recently and he’d be the first to tell you he’s not trying to strike guys out as much, so he might maintain the same strikeout rates while being a very different pitcher. Its stuff like this that doesn’t necessarily show up in stats, you just have to watch what he’s doing.

      Similarly, Cano’s ground ball/fly ball rates are pretty similar to what they were last year, but he’s hitting .150. Is it all just bad luck? No, if you watch his AB’s you’ll notice he was driving the ball much better last year and this year he’s hitting weak fly ball outs. Both are fly balls, both look the same in the stats but if you watch him closely you know there’s no comparison with how he’s swinging the bat.

      I’m not knocking statistical analysis, but it has to be balanced with observational analysis to make the stats meaningful.

      • Adam

        i agree with your statement that statistical analysis does not work in a vacuum, however i think it is useful in this exact instance where we are making judgments based on our perceptions. what if for instance, when mussina was “getting hit hard consistently” some more of those batted balls were turned into outs? then we would not perceive him to be getting hit hard, when in reality he was throwing the exact same pitches.

        now, i don’t know this to be case this year, maybe mussina really has turned a late career corner, but in the preseason when people write articles on how a player is unlucky and we should expect a bounce back year, why is it that we are surprised when he *does* bounce back?

  • Bob

    still, i think it’s probably best if we send mussina down to AA and bring up ian kennedy’s little brother, doofy mcshitface. looks and pitches just like his big bro. you’d have to be an idiot not to do it right hank? moron.

    long live the moose.

  • Joey

    just like we all rushed to dismissed him, don’t rush to say how amazing he is either, he’ll have his hot streaks and cold streaks. As long as he eats innings and wins a few we should be happy

  • Brett

    Moose was awesome today (and recently) and its nice to send him off on a high note, but with not knowing what Rasner will have tomorrow and the way things have gone, I feel like Joe’s been a little quick with the hook the last 2 days.

    • BigBlueAL

      Wang was pulled due to his pitching hand cramping up. i didnt see today’s game, but look who pitched after Moose, Girardi didnt have to use Joba or Mo (or even Ohlie or dare i say it Farnsworth). what im hoping is that since Monday is an off day, hell use Joba in the 7th and 8th if u must to win tomorrow’s game, it would be a great way to end week after gettin swept by the Tigers to immediately sweep ur next series and get back over .500 heading into a much-needed off day.

  • RustyJohn

    Mariner fans are scared of Rasner after last years domination by him- you’d think he were Greg Maddux circa mid-90s by the things they are saying about him. Mariner Fan isa despondant fan.

    It was great this morning- had to run out and do some errands but saw Moose pitch the first- the breaking pitch for first pitch strikes was key. If he keeps it up and if Rasner can just give us innings then, to quote Walter Sobchack, “Our problems are fucking over, Dude….”

    • Jeremy

      The Yankees are much deeper this year on the bench and in the bullpen and the farm team can feed us bodies.

      Without Arod, Jorge and Phil and with IPK struggling and the offense pretty cold, we’re still at 500. If we ever get healthy, the bats heat up (Cano especially) and our young guns start to perform, we’ll be unbeatable.