Sunday, September 04, 2005

Did Snorre Overuse Mussina?

So, the latest injury to hit the Yankees' pitching staff has been to Moose. Mussina, of course, was the only one in the original rotation not to miss any starts. Until yesterday, that is.

And Mussina's injury is no big surprise. Heck, the guy's 36 years old, and had a stint on the DL last year, too. So while perhaps we could've expected Moose to make all his starts, no one should be surprised that the injury bug hit him again.

And I have a feeling that Snorre might have burned the guy out. His 101 pitches-per-game average is a bit lower than his career average (104) (although Moose only averaged 96 per game last year), so he hasn't been used more than in other years. But again, this is a guy who's not getting any younger, and who has had injuries in recent years. The guy can't do what he used to do.

This year, Mussina is 6th in the AL in pitches thrown. And most of the guys on that list are a lot younger, like Zito, Buehrle, Haren, and Freddy Garcia. The only other people Mussina's age or older in the AL's top 10 are Randy Johnson and Tim Wakefield (who, as a knuckleballer, doesn't really count).

Not surprisingly, Mussina is also 7th in the AL in pitches per inning, with 16.6. With a .282 BAA (a career high), the guy has had trouble getting out of innings quickly, which is taking a toll on his arm. So perhaps it's Mussina doing it to himself, in a sense. But again, Snorre, as manager, has to realize when to pull the guy out of the game.

And the guy has been used a lot in recent games. In 3 of 5 starts in July/August, Moose had 115, 122, and 115 as his pitch count for the game. These days, that's a heck of a lot for any pitcher. Especially for a 36 year old.

Who knows? Maybe Moose was bound to break down no matter what, no matter how much or how little he was used. But there's always room for speculation. Especially here.

--- Looks like Moose's injury was a blessing in disguise, at least for one game. If Small keeps this up, I'll be praying for Mussina to get back in there. When is Small gonna finally crack, like Chacon did in Safeco?

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