Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Ace of Moose

Just when the Not-So Big Unit flashed his trademark Yankee inconsistency, the steady pitching of Mike Mussina has come to the rescue. Mussina has been brilliant this season, despite not always getting the run support to pick up the victory. It appears as though he's in for a very nice season with April getting a little wind behind his sails. It's been a while since we've seen this kind of consistent excellence from Moose to start the season, but the stoic Pennsylvanian is leading the way out of the darkness for the Yankees in this early season funk.

In the last 2 years, Moose put up a poor record in April, at 2-6, while the Yankees were 2-9 in games started by the right hander. Moose's early struggles have mirrored the Yankee tendency to get out of the blocks slowly of late. His good numbers in May and June coincide with Yankee fortunes picking up, and perhaps his early success this year bodes well for the future. The team roared out of the gates in 2003, if you’ll remember, and posted an impressive 11-3 over their first fourteen games, and went 20-4 overall in April. The story in both 2004 and 2005 was very different and perhaps helps explain the early frustration that Yankee fans are feeling again this season, with the team off to a 7-7 start. There is hope.

The Bombers posted a 5-9 record over 14 last season, and a 7-7 in 2004. The team finished April 10-14 in 2005, and 13-11 in 2004. The difference this season, at least in my mind, is that in 2006 Mussina has been excellent. To date, Mike Mussina has started 4 games and has a 2-1 record to show for his efforts. He could be 4-0 quite easily, however, as all four starts have been Quality Starts, and he features a stellar 2.67 ERA and a 1.074 WHIP.

The back of our rotation is worrisome, but a good Moose in 2006 is a departure from the guy who posted only 2 Quality Starts out of 5 last April, and went 0-6 in 2004. Randy Johnson will be good over the long haul and while we’ll have to put up with some creaky knees and apparently a “dead arm period” every so often, I’m not so worried about him. The combination of those two solid pitchers at the front of the rotation should give the team some momentum in turning our Spring cobwebs into Summer silk.