The Yankees are not perfect. Despite having the best record in baseball, and despite coming off a stretch of nearly two months in which they played .750 ball, there are concerns with this team heading into the playoffs. Like most of their post-2003 counterparts, these are concerns with pitching. Even with a much-improved rotation the Yankees have issues after their No. 1 man, CC Sabathia. Thankfully, Andy Pettitte helped alleviate some of those concerns last night.
Pettitte was an integral part of the team’s August surge. He pitched 39.2 innings that month, striking out 39 to 12 walks and allowing only 13 runs, 11 earned. The Yankees went 6-0 in his starts. But in September the waters got a bit rougher. Pettitte allowed four runs over six innings, and then three runs over five innings. That last start came on Friday the 11th, and on Tuesday the 15th, just before his next scheduled start, we learned that the Yankees were pushing back his next start due to shoulder fatigue.
The news couldn’t have come at a worse time. A.J. Burnett was riding a string of poor starts, the only saving grace coming in the back half of a doubleheader against the Rays. In the two starts surrounding that he’d allowed 12 runs over 12.1 innings. Concerns abounded for Joba Chamberlain as well. After storming out of the gates in the second half, Joba was looking the worst of his career. Pettitte’s injury meant there were question marks with each of the team’s starters after Sabathia. That’s not a position a playoff team wants to be in.
By pitching well last night, Pettitte started to alleviate those concerns. He had trouble in the first inning, throwing 29 pitches and allowing two runs, but he settled down and worked quickly through the next three frames. Four of his six innings were of the 1-2-3 variety, though he did allow runs in the other two. The Yanks weren’t pushing too hard, as they lifted Pettitte after six innings and 91 pitches. He had shown them that he was healthy.
After the game, Pettitte said he felt good:
“Physically, everything was good,” the lefty said after pitching six solid innings. “Joe (Girardi) pulled me, he didn’t want me to push it. I felt things went well as far as me being healthy.”
Winning is the ultimate goal, but the Yankees got a decent consolation prize. No, Andy Pettitte probably won’t pitch again like he did in August. But he can still be a reliable arm in the playoffs. He’s had a few hiccups this season, but on the whole he’s bee the Yanks second-most reliable starter. They’re going to need him in three weeks, and Yanks fans can rest easy knowing he’ll be ready to answer the call.