|Questions Abound in Pettitteās Return||| Print |||Send|
Written by Jonathan Leshanski (Contact & Archive) on April 15, 2012
Andy Pettitte no longer has the hardest name for the average fan in baseball to spell correctly.Ā That honor belongs to Marc Rzepczynski of the Cardinals, and while most Yankees fans probably can't spell either correctly that certainly doesn't mean they aren't anticipating seeing Pettitte back wearing Yankees pinstripes.
But are they right to anticipate it?Ā Two years ago, the 38-year-old Pettitte walked away on a high note.Ā He finished 11-3 in just 21 starts and with an ERA of 3.28. His strikeout rate was still decent hovering at around 7 / 9 IP. But even back then there was plenty of evidence that Pettitte, who has a reasonable shot at Hall of Fame honors, was winding down.
Now at age 40, two years removed from throwing as a regular hurler what can the Yankees realistically expect from Pettitte?Ā That's a tricky question to answer as there aren't too many pitchers who reach that age and remain in the majors.Ā The ones who did, with the notable exception of a few players like Jamie Moyer, have tended to be ace type pitchers, but none of them had taken this much time off from the game.
That time off is a wild card in any projection about what Pettitte will be capable of producing, or even what role he'll really fill for the Yankees going forward.Ā If we disregard that time off, it wouldn't be hard to project Pettitte producing similar numbers to what he did back in 2010, both due to the ability of the Yankees to score plenty of runs and the fact that the team boasts a better defense than it did for three of those last four years that he played for the team.
But the odds are good that Pettitte has lost a step.Ā It's far easier to imagine him as a fourth or fifth starter than a solid No. 2 hurler again. Ā Still Yankees fans are optimistic, as they should be.Ā Pettitte was always a class act, sometimes far more than his contemporaries, even to the point of admitting to and asking forgiveness for his dalliance with PEDs, something other users should learn from.
Class, however, is not a big factor in on-field performance.Ā You want to see conditioning, intelligence concerning pitching situations, velocity, location and the arsenal of pitches that they can throw in any given situation.Ā No doubt Pettitte will have the conditioning down, and based on early reports it sounds like he'll be prepared as best he and the Yankees staff can get him before he toes the mound for the first time this year.
With any luck he'll be 90% of the pitcher he was two years ago, but that's far from a sure thing.Ā All we can be sure of is that he'll give it his best and that will probably will enough to make him at least as good as the fourth or fifth starter that the Yankees currently have.Ā That's an upgrade that Yankees fans should definitely look forward to.
In any case it's a great story, even if you aren't a Yankees fan.Ā After all everyone loves a comeback story.Ā Now if only he can actually make it happen.