I’m a Baltimore Orioles fan. Yes, I’ll accept your pity. And as an Orioles fan I hate the Yankees. But, there is one player on the Yankees I’ve always rooted for; Mike Mussina.
Mussina is in his 17th season in the majors and every major accomplishment that pitchers are measured by has been just out of his reach.
-He’s never won 20 games. Mussina has had 7 seasons with 17 or more wins. He has more wins than any pitcher without ever having won 20 games in a season. In 1994 he had 16 wins through 112 games before the season was stopped short because of the strike. Mussina was on pace for a 23 win season.
-He’s never won a Cy Young. He’s been nominated seven times and finished in the top 5 six times.
-He’s never led the league in ERA. But, he’s had 10 seasons with an ERA below 3.55
-He’s never pitched a no-hitter. He’s had 3 one-hitters and 1 two-hitter.
-He’s never won a World Series. He lost with the Yankees in 2001 and 2003.
Mussina is clearly past his prime and if this isn’t his last season, next year will almost certainly be it for him. But, many thought his career was over after 4 abysmal outings in the middle of August to the beginning of September where Mussina had an ERA of 14.52. Joe Torre had to pull Mussina from the lineup and many wondered if he’d ever make it back into the rotation. But, Mussina did come back and started for the first time in almost 3 weeks and showed he can still pitch. On Wednesday, against the Blue Jays, Mussina pitched 5.2 scoreless innings to record his 9th win of the season. Mussina needs just one more win to have double-digit wins for the 16th straight season. He is the only pitcher to have 10-plus wins in 15 straight seasons.
Assuming the Yankees make the playoffs, there is a good chance Mussina will be relegated to the bullpen, and there’s even a chance he won’t make the post-season roster at all. After Mussina’s most recent successful start he said to reporters, “I just reminded [management] that I’m still here and I can still pitch.” Hopefully he will get his chance to prove he can still pitch in the playoffs and perhaps reach the biggest milestone that has eluded him: winning a World Series.