With Pettitte out until Sept., a pitching problem


Andy Pettitte, 11-2 on the season with a 2.88 ERA in 18 starts, last pitched on July 18 after ten days of rest due to the All Star break. During that game against the Rays, Pettitte strained his groin, and although the team had hoped he would return within six weeks, the southpaw has been slow to heal. After a setback last week, the Yankees do not expect Pettitte to return until early September, and the Yanks have the makings of a pitching problem.

Pettitte and the Yanks unveiled the bad news about Andy’s groin last night. The lefty had gone for an MRI Tuesday night as he still felt pain in his legs, and the results were discouraging. The imaging scan revealed what the Yanks called a “small, persistent strain of the left groin, and Pettitte will rest for a week. Once he ramps up his rehab again, he’ll need to make two Minor League starts, and the Yankees do not see him returning until around September 10. “It’s going to end up, right now, at least seven weeks, and that’s longer than we anticipated,” Joe Girardi said to reporters.

Pettitte worries that he, at age 38, may not pitch again, but he seems to blame himself for the extended absence. He says he pushed too hard early on to get back into pitching shape. “To say I’m frustrated, that’s an understatement,” Pettitte said. “I’m trying to stay as positive as I can, but I want to pitch. I just want to get back and I want to pitch and I want to be healthy.”

The Yankees know that readying Pettitte for the playoffs is their primary concern, but getting there might become an issue. The club is locked in a battle with the Tampa Bay Rays for first place in the AL East while the Red Sox just won’t die. Boston is sitting 5.5 games out of first — six on the loss side — with 12 games left against the Rays and Yankees. The Bombers have their work cut out for them, but do they have the pitching pieces they need?

After last night’s game, Dustin Moseley’s immediate role on the team is hazy at best. He threw what I would call an adequate five innings against the Detroit Tigers. I’m willing to forgive him the two home runs to Miguel Cabrera, but after a reasonably strong start, Moseley faded by the fifth. He threw a bunch of change-ups, sinkers and curveballs, but with only a four-mile-per-hour separation between the change and fastball. He hit 90 only a few times and topped it just once. His stuff is mediocre at best.

For Moseley, his biggest problem is that he doesn’t miss bats. Tigers’ hitters swung and missed at just eight of his 84 pitches last night, and despite a 3-2 record, he has an ERA of 4.76 and an unimpressive 19:14 K:BB ratio in 39.2 innings. He’s also allowed a whopping nine home runs and now has a FIP of 6.15. I know he pitched a gem against the Red Sox, but would anyone really trust him in a key spot right now?

And of course the Bombers still have their Phil Hughes problem. The youngster takes the mound this afternoon with 134.2 innings under his belt and a season limit believed to be around 175. As Larry Brooks of The Post notes, Pettitte’s injury is impinging on the Yanks’ plans for Hughes. The team doesn’t expect to pull Hughes from the rotation and certainly won’t do so with Pettitte out. But they could be risking a big jump in Phil’s innings if the Red Sox continue to put pressure on the AL East leaders and Pettitte’s injury lingers.

At this point in the season, the Yankees have few options. Shadowing Moseley at AAA, Ivan Nova gave up a run on five hits in 6.2 innings. He struck out seven but walked four, and with a 12-3 ERA with a 2.86 ERA, he could be in line for a few Bronx starts. His Minor League equivalences before last night show a FIP of 4.78 and an unimpressive 1.6 K:BB rate.

For now, then, the Yanks will move ahead with a hole in their rotation. They’re probably rely on the bullpen to get 12 outs if Phil Hughes is pitching in some blowouts, and they’re cross their fingers that Andy gets well soon and that his replacement can keep a lid on the runs. After all, as Brian Cashman said after last night’s win, “You can’t replace Andy Pettitte.”

Categories : Pitching


  1. Ross in Jersey says:

    As exciting as Montero has been, this pitching uncertainty still kinda makes me wish Seattle didn’t screw us on the Lee deal. After CC it’s just a bunch of question marks… not good.

  2. Frank says:

    Prior to the trade deadline, the Yanks knew they were facing a dicey situation with the rotation given Vazquez and A.J.’s problems; that’s why they wanted Lee/Haren. Pettitte’s injury just exacerbates the problem. That said, I think Mosely will be OK. I’ll take 5-6 innings/4 runs from him and take my chance with the BP and the Yanks’ offense.

  3. larryf says:

    Nova will be good for us. And what about Alby and his 39 saves and 1.40 era. What will become of him?

    • Cy Pettitte says:

      I could see him taking Wood’s spot next year since his $11m option realistically won’t be picked up and who knows how willing he will be to take a huge pay cut

  4. Cy Pettitte says:

    if Ace comes back strong they may be able to piece together a few starts with him and Mitre combining for 6 or 7 innings. If they bring up Nova too the rest of the season should be manageable.

  5. Rose says:

    The pitching is a pretty big problem…even if when we get to the playoffs. Sabathia is the only sure thing. Burnett is Burnett. 2010 Javier Vazquez looks eerily similar to the 2004 Javier Vazquez (despite how ridiculous it sounds and how annoying it’s been to listen to all that even before he threw a pitch), except with less velocity (and less K’s). Andy Pettitte is 38 and who knows how he’s going to pitch when he gets back. And Phil Hughes is on an innings limit and we all know how consistent those tweeks are with pitchers.

    You have Aceves, Gaudin (who probably won’t be on the team then), and Moseley as spot starter/long relief guys…

    Meanwhile, the Rays have a 3.73 ERA for their Starters and a 3.33 ERA for their bullpen – their 2nd half ERA is 3.67. Texas has a 4.17 ERA for Starters and 3.42 ERA for bullpen but their overall ERA in the 2nd half is 3.76 and for some odd reason their ERA is also better at home in their bandbox. Boston’s 2nd half ERA is 3.62. Minnesota has a 3.38 ERA in the 2nd half.

    The Yankees currently have a 3.88 ERA in the second half…but this has a clear chance of hitting quite a bump with the situation they’re being put into. Although, it might now…but there’s more of a probability that it will.

    Basically, it sucks haha

  6. Frank says:

    Mosely actually didn’t pitch that bad last night. Yes, he gave up 2 solo HRs to Cabrera. His big mistake was giving up the 2-run HR to the number nine hitter (hitting .219 with an OBP of .269) by throwing a terrible hanging curve on an 0-2 pitch with 2 outs and a 6-2 Yanks lead. If Mosely gets him, he pitches 5 innings, gives up 2 runs, leaves with a 6-2 lead and everyone is saying nice start.

  7. steve s says:

    With the effectiveness of Wood and Ace about to return what do the Yanks have to lose by trying Joba again as a starter. I don’t know the logistics of how they could get him stretched out (other than a DL stint and minor rehab perhaps) or whether this ship has sailed but it’s time to think out of the box on this one.

  8. Doug says:

    To be able to pull Hughes in some blowouts to save his innings, wouldn’t it make some sense to move him out from behind Moseley in the rotation? Moseley or Nova or whomever is unlikely to give you length, taxing the pen in those starts. Pitch Hughes after CC and you’ll more often than not have a rested pen to get extra outs in Phil’s starts.

  9. 121: T 8/19 v DET - Hughes
    122: F 8/20 v SEA - Burnett
    123: S 8/21 v SEA - Vazquez
    124: S 8/22 v SEA - Sabathia
    125: M 8/23 @ TOR - Moseley
    126: T 8/24 @ TOR - Hughes
    127: W 8/25 @ TOR - Burnett
    off: T 8/26 off day
    128: F 8/27 @ CHW - Vazquez — (you could skip him altogether here, but I think if he’s decent against the M’s he makes this start and everyone gets extra rest)
    129: S 8/28 @ CHW - Sabathia — (extra rest)
    130: S 8/29 @ CHW - Moseley — (extra rest)
    131: M 8/30 v OAK - Hughes — (extra rest)
    132: T 8/31 v OAK - Burnett — (extra rest)
    133: W 9/1 v OAK - Vazquez — (extra rest)
    134: T 9/2 v OAK - Sabathia
    135: F 9/3 v TOR - Moseley Nova
    136: S 9/4 v TOR - Hughes
    137: S 9/5 v TOR - Burnett
    138: M 9/6 v BAL - Vazquez
    139: T 9/7 v BAL - Sabathia
    140: W 9/8 v BAL - Nova
    off: T 9/9 off day
    141: F 9/10 @ TEX - Pettitte — (if he can make this start, it helps rest the rotation tremendously.)
    142: S 9/11 @ TEX - Burnett — (extra rest)
    143: S 9/12 @ TEX - Vazquez — (extra rest)
    144: M 9/13 @ TBR - Sabathia — (extra rest)
    145: T 9/14 @ TBR - Hughes — (a skipped start’s worth of rest)
    146: W 9/15 @ TBR - Pettitte
    off: T 9/16 off day
    147: F 9/17 @ BAL - Burnett — (extra rest)
    148: S 9/18 @ BAL - Vazquez — (extra rest)
    149: S 9/19 @ BAL - Sabathia — (extra rest)
    150: M 9/20 v TBR - Hughes — (extra rest)
    151: T 9/21 v TBR - Pettitte — (extra rest)
    152: W 9/22 v TBR - Burnett
    153: T 9/23 v TBR - Vazquez
    154: F 9/24 v BOS - Sabathia
    155: S 9/25 v BOS - Hughes
    156: S 9/26 v BOS - Pettitte
    157: M 9/27 @ TOR - Burnett
    158: T 9/28 @ TOR - Vazquez
    159: W 9/29 @ TOR - Sabathia
    off: T 9/30 off day
    160: F 10/1 @ BOS - Hughes — (or give this start to Nova/Moseley if the game is meaningless)
    161: S 10/2 @ BOS - Pettitte — (extra rest)
    162: S 10/3 @ BOS - Burnett — (extra rest)

    We could even switch from Moseley to Nova a start earlier against the White Sox on the 29th, but whatevs.

    I really like having those 4 Thursdays off. Let’s hope there’s no rainouts.

  10. I don’t mean to be overly picky here, but the 8 swings-and-misses out of 31 swings against Moseley yesterday makes for a whiff rate of .258, which is significantly above league average (about .200). While I agree that Moseley’s stuff doesn’t really make for a powerful arsenal, he actually did a pretty good job of getting the Tigers to whiff.

  11. Solution: Let’s have Adam Warren take Moseley’s turn in the rotation.


  12. Ghost of Scott Brosius says:

    Is Phelps an option? He seems to be putting up pretty nice numbers at AAA since his promotion. How does his stuff compare with Nova’s?

    • He just recently got to AAA, so it’s doubtful. He’s putting himself in the convo to be sure, but not being on the 40-man is a big obstacle for him.

      • JohnnyC says:

        For a kid who’s zoomed up the ladder and dominated at each level on the way, Phelps gets little love from the interwebs and even from his own organization. He’s 23 in AAA but most pundits rate his ceiling as back of the rotation/middle reliever due to middling stuff (92-94 FB but not much else in secondary pitches). He’s portrayed as IPK-lite without his breaking stuff, which if true would be a dim picture indeed.

        • but most pundits rate his ceiling as back of the rotation/middle reliever due to middling stuff (92-94 FB but not much else in secondary pitches).

          Having middling stuff and no putaway pitch tends to do that to you (cap you at a back end starter, that is.)

          I like Phelps, and I agree, he’s still flying under the radar a bit. But he’s still a notch below IPK in prospect status. He’s never been as dominant as IPK was, and neither of them had elite stuff but IPK at least had elite command.

  13. Basil F. says:

    we have an option for starting pitcher, his name… Alfredo Aceves.

    Stretch him out, hope his back’s ok, bring him up in Sept.

  14. Scout says:

    Nova would be next in line from the minors, ahead of Phelps or anyone now at Trenton. But the Yankees are conservative this late in the season, especially locked in a tough race. With Moseley, they have a pretty good idea of what to expect; with Nova, there is just that much more uncertainty. Much as I would like to see him get a shot, I would be surprised to see it happen unless Moseley shows a clearer downward trend.

    • kosmo says:

      Give Nova a couple of starts .Let´s see what he´s made of.He can´t be any worse than Moseley .Moseley is a stop gap that´s all.Now the gap has widened a bit with Pettitte being out longer than expected.NY needs to try something else-Nova.
      NY can´t be leveraging the season giving 6-7 more starts to Moseley.Very risky.
      Who wins the AL East might come down to final few games of the season.

  15. nycsportzfan says:

    lets see what nova gots.. I would really like to see him play, and do it while we got a 5.5 game lead over boston, that way if he does well, great, and if he dosen’t it dosen’t kill us.. This is exactly why way back in May i talked about aquiring Cliff lee and then Dan Haren, and even Jake Westbrook, i knew we’d have rotation issues, with hughes since struggling some and being on a INN LIMIT, then ANDY pitching out of his mind, i knew that woulden’t keep up, and because of injury, it hasen’t, and AJ and JAVY both are coin flips, leaving only CC as a sure thing… Boy having Haren Lee or Westbrook would be nice right now…

  16. Mike HC says:

    I don’t think anybody really feels bad for us, ha, especially the Sox. Bottom line is that the Yanks will have to fight through the injuries. There is no other choice. And Hughes is clearly staying in the rotation inning limits be damned. That is almost a certainty now.

  17. Tank Foster says:

    Yankees and Rays are pretty even, even with Andy out. I don’t think any central or west team can take the wild card. The question is, with Andy out and nothing better than Dustin in the offing, can the Red Sox catch up?

    With Youkilis out, I don’t think so. Their (starting) pitching is excellent, and they have a couple of top flite bullpen pitchers, but I don’t think they can make up 5 games on NY and Tampa without Youkilis.

    So, in context…..the Yankee pitching problem is a pretty small problem, I think. I think the Yankees have been underperforming offensively relative to what they could do, so maybe they’ll go on a hitting tear in the next couple of weeks.

    On Mosely….another guy with an “M” surname had a pretty good career with an 89 mph fastball. Mosely is pretty efficient; they could do alot worse than him for a stop gap. Plus, wasn’t he a swing man or reliever at AAA? Is it possible he’ll improve as they continue to stretch him out?

    • Can the Red Sox catch up?… Their (starting) pitching is excellent.

      Two of their starters are excellent (Buchholz and Lester). The other three spots in the rotation, whether they’ve been occupied by Lackey, Dice-K, Beckett, Wakefield, Dubront, etc… they’ve all been mediocre to shitty.

      • Tank Foster says:

        I’d rate Lackey (161 IP) and Daisuke (110, and WHIP of 1.3) as better than “mediocre to shitty.” Combine them with the two guys who are in the top 10 in the league, I’d say that’s “excellent” starting pitching.

  18. mustang says:

    “Ted Lilly (3-0) has a 1.89 ERA with 15 strikeouts and two walks since joining the Dodgers and seems energized now that he’s out of the awful situation in Chicago.”

    Hey Cash how are you doing?

    • mustang says:

      “Brian Cashman said after last night’s win, “You can’t replace Andy Pettitte.”

      Yes, Brian to a lesser extent you can you just didn’t.

      • Zach says:

        Sad to say, but if a team backs out of a deal, there’s nothing you can do. I can see us acquring Cliff Lee off season.

  19. Mick says:

    What does Brian Cashman have against Ted Lilly? First he trades him for Jeff Weaver then when he has the chance to fix that mistake he instead signs Kei Igawa. Once again this summer he has a chance to bolster the rotation and once again he passes on Lilly. Last night Lilly pitched a 2-hit shutout for the Dodgers. I don’t get it.

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