The question is one that the Yankees would rather not have to answer, but for Mike Mussina, the outcome of Monday's start may determine the club's next course of action.

Over two starts following a four-start winning streak, the 38-year-old Mussina has proven very hittable, unable to instill much confidence in a club that desperately needs consistent starting pitching to keep its postseason hopes alive.

His last effort, a start against the Angels in California on Tuesday, was his worst of the season: Mussina couldn't make it out of the second inning, surrendering seven runs and seven hits while recording just five outs. While Mussina said he isn't concerned with who might replace him from within the Yankees organization, he is mindful that he's not ready to concede defeat yet.

"I just couldn't throw strikes, no matter how I warmed up or how I felt with my offspeed pitches," Mussina said. "That just created the entire mess, more than just the first two guys getting walked. It was trying to make a correction over the plate instead of right on the corners. There wasn't even enough time to fully figure out what in the world was going on."

Mussina said his struggles were even more baffling at the time because he had thrown a good bullpen session before the start. Then again, Mussina said he also threw well under controlled conditions before allowing seven runs (six earned) to the Tigers on Aug. 16 at Yankee Stadium, meaning that perhaps his troubles lay elsewhere.

"It was mechanical and psychological," Mussina said. "I've got to figure out the right stuff to use. Whatever I was trying to use wasn't working anyway. I kind of had it both [ways]. No matter what I tried, it's not right."

The Tigers don't make the proposition any simpler as New York looks to avoid dropping its second consecutive series, hoping to salvage a split of a four-game series in Detroit. All-Star right-hander Justin Verlander, who beat Mussina on Aug. 16, will provide the opposition.

Pitching matchup
NYY: RHP Mike Mussina (8-9, 5.22 ERA)
Mussina is coming off an effort that matched the shortest outing of his Yankees career, having also pitched 1 2/3 innings on Sept. 27, 2005, at Baltimore. He has 247 career wins and needs one to tie Amos Rusie for 44th place on baseball's all-time list.

DET: RHP Justin Verlander (13-5, 3.94 ERA)
Verlander will be making his third career regular-season start against the Yankees. He is 1-0 with a 7.84 ERA lifetime against New York, having allowed nine runs in 10 1/3 innings. Verlander took a no-decision in the Tigers' Game 2 American League Division Series win against the Yankees last October.

Player to watch
Marcus Thames has four hits in seven at-bats against Mussina. He homered off Yankees rookie Phil Hughes in Sunday's matinee.

Tickets
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On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
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Up next
• Tuesday: Red Sox (Daisuke Matsuzaka, 13-10, 3.76) at Yankees (Andy Pettitte, 11-7, 3.69), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Wednesday: Red Sox (Josh Beckett, 16-5, 3.21) at Yankees (Roger Clemens, 5-5, 4.34), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Thursday: Red Sox (Curt Schilling, 8-5, 4.11) at Yankees (Chien-Ming Wang, 15-6, 3.95), 1:05 p.m. ET