Andy Pettitte’s next start will be the final game at Yankee Stadium. I’m beginning to think it might be Pettitte’s last start at the stadium as well.
The lefty’s losing ways continued last night as the Yanks dropped a game to the White Sox, 6-2. With 11 games left in the season, they are ten games out of first place and nine out of the Wild Card. In a few days, the Yankees will officially miss the playoffs for the first time since there were no playoffs in 1994. It is a shocking reality.
But back to Pettitte. Since July 31, Pettitte has been nothing short of terrible. In ten starts, he’s 1-7 with a 6.45 ERA. In 60 innings, he’s given up 80 hits while walking 21 and striking out 48. He’s pitching to a Ponsonian WHIP of 1.68, and many of those baserunners are coming around to score.
Through the end of July, Pettitte was 12-7 with a 3.76 ERA. He’s now 13-14. He’s set a career high in losses and is facing the prospects of his first losing season. Even worse than his numbers, though, is he stuff. Watching him toil through six innings today, I could see that Pettitte just didn’t have it. He couldn’t get righties out, and his pitches weren’t confounding left-handed hitters either.
A few months ago, word got around that Pettitte may have been injured. But, as with Derek Jeter, A-Rod, Jorge Posada and Johnny Damon, Pettitte is one of those players who won’t sit out, who won’t take himself out, who won’t give up on his team. It’s an admirable trait, but he hasn’t been able to help the team since July. Something’s going on, and we don’t know what it is.
So as the Yankees gear up for a major off-season in which the Front Office could decide to cut ties with many long-time Yankees, Andy Pettitte is going to have to convince the Yankee brass that he, if hurt, can and wants to come back. He’s going to have to convince himself too that he can come back.
Andy Pettitte made his Major League debut at Yankee Stadium on April 29, 1995. It was the third game of the strike-shortened season, and he threw 0.2 innings in relief, allowing two runs on three hits. Gary Gaetti, Greg Gagne and Phil Hiatt put together a mini-rally that pushed Pettitte from the game. The Yanks would go on to win anyway.
On Sunday night, Pettitte will receive the ultimate honor of throwing the final first pitch at the House that Ruth Built, and as his body wears down on him, as he ages, he could be facing the reality of a life without baseball. Sunday’s game would be a fitting end for Pettitte. I hope he’s up for the task.