Due to a busy weekend, blogging was light. So I have a post relating to Saturday’s game for you here. We’ll talk about yesterday’s win later.
Watching Mike Mussina go 4-0 over his last four starts, I was struck by how utterly the same Mussina seemed on the mound. All of a sudden, with the same stuff that had been getting hit hard earlier in the year, Mussina had hitters flailing at pitches. Over his last 25.1 innings, Mussina has an ERA of 2.84, but he hasn’t found miles on is fastball. I wondered what had changed.
A quick look at the numbers revealed some interesting trends. First, I thought, maybe it was an issue of hits. Was Mike Mussina doing a better job of getting outs? Over those 25.1 innings, Mussina has allowed 29 hits or 1.15 per inning. Over his previous 88.2 innings, Mussina had allowed 1.14 hits per inning. So the answer wasn’t to be found in hits.
Maybe home runs had been Mussina’s bugaboo this year. Moose has surrendered 2 longballs over his last 25.1 innings or 0.7 per 9 IP. Previously, Mussina had given up home runs at a rate of 1.12 per 9 IP. That’s a change but it hardly counts for a change in ERA from 4.97 over 88.1 IP to 2.84 over his last four starts. Something else must be at work here, I thought.
As the game unfolded on Saturday, I realized what has spurred on Mike Mussina’s success, and it is a lesson in pitching and Three True Outcomes. For the third start in a row on Saturday, Mike Mussina had not walked a batter. Recently, Mussina has issued 0.7 BB per 9 IP. Prior to that, he had issued 2.23 per 9 IP.
Meanwhile, on the strike out front, Mussina over his last 25.1 innings has 19 Ks or 6.75 per 9 IP. In the 88.2 IP prior, he had a K/9 IP of 5.48. Ah-ha! Here we have the keys to Mike Mussina’s success. He has allowed fewer home runs while cutting down on the number of baserunners per 9 IP by 1.5. He’s keeping balls out of play by striking out more hitters per game. Thus, he has pitched significantly better of late.
But I can’t help but fear a regression. Despite the increase in strike outs and the decrease in walks, Mussina isn’t throwing anymore strikes than he was before his resurgence. Around two-thirds of his pitches have been strikes during his last 25.1 innings and around two-thirds were strikes during the previous 88.2 IP. So what’s happened?
Well, the Yankees and Mike Mussina have had the distinct pleasure of facing the Royals, the White Sox, the Royals again and the Indians. Mussina is, in other words, beating bad and impatient teams with struggling offenses. He’s beating teams that strike out a lot, that haven’t, of late, been hitting a lot of home runs and are among the worst in the American League at getting on base.
Mussina’s next game will be the big test. He’s due to face Detroit on Thursday. In the Tigers, he’ll face another struggling team but this is one team that is adept at putting the ball in play and hits for power as well. If Mike Mussina can mow down the Tigers this week as he did the Indians on Saturday, then I’ll be a believer. For now, I’ll just enjoy the ride and optimistically hope for the best from a pitcher of which I am always skeptical.
So Eric Gagne blew two games this weekend against the Orioles. Meanwhile, the Yanks took the season series from a very passive Cleveland Indians team. The Yanks find themselves just four games out (and with a better Pythogorean record than the Red Sox). So the Yanks are arguably a better team right now. I think they can find a way to overcome a four-game deficit before the end of September. Time for a great pennant race. · (9) ·
And 2 weeks later, they’re calling him “Eric Gag-me” in Beantown.
Triple-A Scranton (9-4 loss to Buffalo)
Brett Gardner: 2 for 5, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 K – 6 hits in his last 4 games
Alberto Gonzalez: 4 for 4, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 SB – I see hitting in the 3-hole agrees with him…it’s even more impressive when you conisder that the opposing starter was this guy
Erubiel Durazo: 0 for 5, 1 K – 3 for his last 21
Eric Duncan: 0 for 4, 1 R, 1 K
Bronson Sardinha: 2 for 4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 K
Ben Kozlowski: 3 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, 1 Balk – he’s having such a good year, it’d be a shame if he didn’t get a Sept. call-up
Colter Bean: 1 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 0 K, 1 WP – guess he cleared waivers…
TJ Beam: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
Jose Veras: 2 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 1 HBP
Update: We have a former Yankee sighting. I’m chillin’ out watching the Little League World Series on ESPN, and guess who’s the head coach for the squad from Chandler, Arizona? None other than Clay Bellinger. Awesome, just awesome.
There’s a rumor floating around that the Yanks and first round pick Andrew Brackman have either agreed to, or are close to agreeing to a deal worth $3M, which would be $2.1M over slot. Again, this is just a rumor.
Triple-A Scranton (4-1 loss to Rochester)
Brett Gardner: 1 for 3, 1 BB, 1 K – picked off second
The Kevin’s: combined 0 for 7, 1 RBI, 3 K – Thompson drove in the run
Angel Chavez, Erubiel Durazo & Alberto Gonzalez: all 1 for 4
Eric Duncan: 2 for 4, 1 R – too little, too late my friend
The Ghost of Kei Igawa’s Ghost: 6 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 6 K, 8-3 GB/FB – well, at least he’s smiling in his SWB mugshot
Brian Bruney: 1.2 IP, 0 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 0 K, 1 WP – king of the 3-ball count
Chris Britton: 0.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K – in other news, Kyle Farnsworth has a 1.59 WHIP
Kei Igawa, the most disappointing Yankee pitcher since Carl Pavano, may be donning the San Diego fatigues soon. According to numerous reports such as this one on ESPN.com, the Padres, who tried to acquire Igawa in July, have put a waiver claim on the lefty. The Yanks hope to acquire relief pitching for Igawa who is just 2-3 with an ERA a tad under 7.00. Let’s hope the Yanks can make this happen.
Update by Mike: I was just thinking…the Pads recently DFA’ed old friend Boomer Wells, would anyone be down with an Igawa-for-Boomer deal? If nothing else, it gives us a starter to cover Clemens’ start on Tuesday without having to finagle the 40-man roster or throw Jeff Karstens out there. Maybe he could even suck it up and serve as a lefty out of the ‘pen for the rest of the year. Random musings on my part…
Update by Ben: Joe and I were talking about Mike’s suggestion late last week when the Padres DFA’d Wells. Wells, we noted, is persona non grata in the Bronx following the 2003 World Series and comments Boomer made upon leaving New York. He’s not coming back. But he also wouldn’t be a bad influence on Hughes or Chamberlain as someone noted in the comments. If anything, Wells is a bit of a buffoon off the field but on the field, he’s always been a top competitor.
2 IP, 0 H, 0 BB, 4 K. Nuff said.
Six strong from Hughes…2 perfect from Joba…Mo for the 9th…could you script it any better?
Oh, and Eric Gagne coughed up a 4 run lead tonight. He’s now allowed 11 baserunners in 3.1 innings for the Sawx.
Triple-A Scranton (7-6 loss to Rochester)
Brett Gardner: 0 for 4, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K
Bronson Sardinha: 0 for 5, 1 K – 3 for 19 since returning to Scranton
Kevin Reese: 2 for 3, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB – threw a runner out at 3rd
Alberto Gonzalez & Chris Basak: both 2 for 4, 1 R, 1 RBI – the Attorney General doubled
Eric Duncan: 0 for 3, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 E (missed catch)
Matty D: 6 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 12-5 GB/FB
Sean Henn: 1.1 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K
Edwar: 0.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K – what, no Ks?
Well, beat the drum and hold the phone – the sun came out today!
We’re born again, there’s new grass on the field.
The Yanks were dead in the water in May. With Chase Wright, Darrell Rasner, Jeff Karstens, Kei Igawa and Tyler Clippard coming through the revolving door of the Yankee rotation, the Yanks quickly this year found themselves 14 games out of first place and in last place in the AL East. People were writing off this year while looking forward to next year.
But then a funny thing happened on the way to October: The Yankees started winning, and once again, baseball managed to become a great surprise. Going to games – something that seemed onerous on cold May nights – became a real pleasure as the mercury soared in July. As John Fogarty once sang, the Yanks were indeed born again. And what a run it’s been.
Just read this bit over at Pete Abraham’s blog. It appears that should A-Rod opt out of his contract, the Yankees could (and by that, I mean will) offer him arbitration, thereby receiving a first rounder and a sandwich pick.
There has been much talk about this, and many people referred to the clause in Alex’s contract that says a team cannot offer him arbitration after the deal expires. Apparently — and this comes from Abraham via Brian Cashman himself — that clause does not apply for this opt-out years. It makes you wonder why the Dodgers didn’t offer Drew arbitration (or did Boras stick a “no arbitration” regulation in Drew’s opt-out clause?).
I’ll believe this for now, since it comes from Cashman. However, should it prove wrong, we might want to consider who we have running our baseball operations.