During the 2007 ALDS, Mike Mussina found himself banished to the bullpen. Manager Joe Torre went with Chien-Ming Wang in Game 4 at Yankee Stadium, hoping to expedite the series back to Cleveland with Andy Pettitte in Game 5. While Moose would see action in that game, unlike Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS, it was too late to save the Yankees bacon.
Under new skipper Joe Girardi in 2008, Mussina was given a new lease on life. In a year when New York trotted out the likes of Darrell Rasner, Sidney Ponson and Dan Giese, watching Mussina pitch was refreshing, like a fountain of youth.
The 2008 swan song season saw Moose win 20 games, a gold glove and place sixth in AL Cy Young voting. It was also the first time since the 2003 campaign that Mussina reached the 200 inning mark.
Fast forward to 2016 and you’ll see another renaissance on the mound in CC Sabathia. After the past couple of injury plagued seasons and a bout with alcohol, some wondered if Sabathia was done of if he’d be an expensive fifth starter or an expensive version of Justin Wilson out of the bullpen. Yet, Sabathia has found a nice plain, somewhere on the spectrum of a fire-balling Ron Guidry and a crafty Jimmy Key.
As we’ve seen with some Yankee starters this season, “stuff” only gets you so far until you have to find a way to pitch. Sabathia is finding a way and is more than gutting out a number of quality starts.
Across his first ten starts, Sabathia is third on the club with four victories and if he had enough innings to qualify, his 2.28 ERA and 1.21 WHIP would rank second behind Masahiro Tanaka. Sabathia has 49 strikeouts across 59.1 innings and has only yielded two home runs on the year.
How does that measure up or surpass Mussina’s first ten outings out 2008? To that point, Mussina racked up six victories, a 4.11 ERA, 25 strikeouts over 50.1 innings of work, allowing seven home runs.
From there, Mussina was especially sharp in the second half, which has also been the case historically for Sabathia.
While he likely won’t win 20, as with Mussina and guys like Dwight Gooden and David Cone in 1996, Yankee fans appreciate guys who battle and grind it out and Sabathia is more than fitting the bill in that respect.