The Pettitte problemBy
No matter what happens today, the Yankees will head into the All Star Break with the third-highest win total in the Major Leagues. They are holding down a playoff position and have played some of the best baseball I’ve seen this team play in a few seasons.
All however is not wine and roses. While we looked at Joba’s recent struggles yesterday, today we are faced with the reality of Andy Pettitte. He may have eight wins, but they haven’t been pretty. Lately, he’s barely been keeping the Yanks in the game. Handed a 4-0 lead yesterday afternoon, Pettitte gave it all back and more before the 5th inning was out. Similar to Joba on Friday, Pettitte was showered by the end of the 5th.
This start caps off a bad end to the first half for Pettitte. After going 5-1 with a 4.10 ERA through the end of May, Pettitte has tanked. He’s 3-4 with a 5.93 ERA. He has allowed 51 hits over his last 44 innings while walking 21 and striking out 36. That’s a 1.66 WHIP for those keeping score at home. Opponents have an OPS against Pettitte well over .800 now.
More alarming, in a way though, are his innings totals. Those 44 innings span eight starts. He’s averaging just 5.5 innings per game. When the season started, Pettitte was billed as a solid back-end guy. He’d throw to a mid-4 ERA but would give the Yanks some length. He’s not really doing that anymore.
Overall, Pettitte heads into the break with an 8-5 record and a 4.85 ERA. Since the 2008 All Star break, Pettitte is 12-12 with a 5.06 ERA. He just turned 37 last month, and we’re unlikely to see Pettitte improve.
When I saw the results of the game yesterday, I sent Joe and Mike an e-mail. “The Yanks have a bit of a pitching problem on their hands,” I said, and my two co-writers agreed. What we’re seeing is what we’re going to get from Pettitte right now. He throws 88 or 89 with flashes of 90 but can’t push a ball by too many hitters anymore. He hasn’t yet reinvented himself a la Mike Mussina 2008 but is showing why I was reluctant to bring him back this past winter.
The Yankees can feel good about themselves after today’s game, and we should too. They’re a very good team right now, but they have some holes. For better or worse, Andy Pettitte is one of those holes, and with Wang out and Joba struggling as a youngster breaking into the Bigs, the Yanks should be pondering how to address this Andy Pettitte problem.