The good news is that, with the Red Sox having lost their first two games to the Royals, the Yankees could lose tonight and still finish the three-game stretch in which they played the defending World Champs while their rivals played the worst time in baseball without having lost a game in the standings.
The bad news is this trend I just noticed in Mike Mussina's game log:
*would likely have been seven, but he was forced out of his June 30 game after allowing no hits over four innings because of a long rain delay
The more than two extra runs per game (!) seem to be the result of his increased number of baserunners. Moose has been getting hit harder and more often, and that might be the result of a slight loss of command that has also inflated his walk rate (though note that his K rate has also increased). More runners mean more pitches and more pitches and more runs mean fewer innings and a bigger strain on the bullpen.
Now compare that bottom set of numbers to what Moose did over the 2004 and 2005 seasons:
So much for Moose having discovered the secret to late-career success. Not that he's a bad pitcher, but he is a league average one, though with a great K/BB rate and the ability to go on a dominant run like he did in Septemer 2004 or the first two months of this season. Still, the Yankees would be wise to bear this in mind when making a decision about his 2007 option this fall. Given the other options, it's likely worth overpaying Moose for a year to keep his reliability in the rotation, but he'll be 39 in November 2007. I wouldn't give him a multi-year deal at this point.
That 12-12 split in Moose's season falls conveniently at June 1. Check out what happens when you divide the season of his mound opponent in tonight's game the same way:
through June 1: 6-3, 3.86 ERA, 6.3 K/9, 2.2 BB/9, 0.69 HR/9, 1.10 WHIP, 10 GS, 7 QS, 6.53 IP/GS
since June 1: 4-3, 6.45 ERA, 8.6 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, 1.32 HR/9, 1.52 WHIP, 11 GS, 2 QS, 6.12 IP/GS
That split sure looks a lot like what we all saw from Javy back in 2004, don't it? In reality, Vazquez in April and June of 2004 was even better than he was in April and May of this year, but he was every bit as bad in the season's other four months.
Of course, despite that bottom split above, Vazquez dominated the Blue Jays in his most recent start to the tune of 8 IP, 2 H, 1 HR, 2 BB, 13 K. The consolation there being that without those numbers he was even worse in June and July. Here's hoping Home Run Javy shows his true colors tonight as the Yankees look to take the rubber game and finish the season with a 5-1 record against the defending World Champs.