In his final year in pinstripes, Jeff Nelson compiled a 6-0 record out of the bullpen by May 9, putting him on pace for 31 relief wins. He won two more games all year, finishing with an 8-4 record. In his seventh start of this season, Chien-Ming Wang ran his record to 6-0, putting him on a 30-win pace. Since then he's gone 0-2 in five starts. Mike Mussina enters tonight's game with eight wins, putting him in a five-way tie for third place in the majors behind Brandon Webb (10-2) and the surprising Joe Saunders (9-2). I'd still be surprised if he wins more than 15 on the year.
Moose has eight wins because he's had 5.28 runs of support per game thus far and has earned the decision in every one of his 12 starts. Despite his eight wins, Mussina has just five quality starts (four if you use the stringent < 3 R rule rather than the looser < 3 ER standard). In his last three outings he's allowed 15 runs in 11 2/3 innings, but eight of those runs were unearned (all scoring after Mussina failed to pick up his defense following a first-inning error) and he's gone 2-1 in those games. Mussina has exceeded expectations beyond his 8-4 record, but that is largely due to how low the expectations were for him entering the season.
Twenty-three-year-old Jesse Litsch is 7-1 on the season and didn't allow a run in either of his last two starts, totaling 16 innings. Over his last six starts he's posted a 1.67 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, averaged over seven innings per start, and walked just two men in 43 innings.
The Yankees need to snap their sudden three-game losing streak, but unless Mussina's luck keeps up (I though it had ended three starts ago when he failed to get out of the first inning, but I was clearly wrong), tonight might not be their night.
Jorge Posada has been activated with Dan Giese getting farmed out to make room (so much for repeating the Joba-Giese tandem on Sunday), but he's not in the lineup. Moose will pitch to Jose Molina with Wilson Betemit at first base subbing for Jason Giambi who's getting a day of rest after fouling a pitch off his foot late in last night's game. Both Giambi and Posada are expected to start tomorrow afternoon's series finale.