Planning for Andy Pettitte’s return


(AP Photo/Mel Evans)

Andy Pettitte‘s return to the Yankees took another step forward yesterday, as he threw 96 pitches in his latest tune-up start. The team has yet to make an official announcement, though I have to think Andy will return to Double-A Trenton for his next tune-up start this weekend (they’ll be playing at home) unless the weather doesn’t cooperate. Depending on how that start goes, he could be declared ready for the big leagues or in need of another minor league start. I could see it going either way right now, to be honest.

Monday’s scheduled day off affords the Yankees quite a bit of flexibility. They could use it to skip either Phil Hughes or David Phelps, avoiding their fifth starter until next Saturday against the Mariners. Conveniently, that would line up perfectly for Pettitte’s return if he does come through his next minor league tune-up start with flying colors. He’d actually have an extra day of rest prior to that start, which is probably ideal.

If Pettitte needs more time, then the Yankees can still use Monday to skip the lesser of two evils, either Hughes or Phelps. That will allow them to limit the number of starts made by the weakest rotation link before Andy returns. This isn’t rocket science; if the Yankees want to improve the performance of their starting staff, one of the first things they need to do is to stop running ineffective pitchers out there and hoping for the best. When alternatives present themselves, by all means use them. Monday’s day off is an alternative to another dud start.

The odds are stacked against Pettitte making a meaningful contribution to the Yankees this year given his age and temporary retirement, but I have a real hard time betting against him. He may or may not be ready to jump into the big leagues late next week, but he’s been continually making progress since signing in the middle of Spring Training and isn’t far off from being a real option for the rotation. One more start, and it could be go time for the big lefty.

Categories : Pitching
  • MannyGeee

    “The odds are stacked against Pettitte making a meaningful contribution to the Yankees this year given his age and temporary retirement”

    Luckily, all he needs to do is be better than Sweaty Freddy (read: not get completely lit up). anything more than that really is gravy.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Oh, there’s a lot of room between “effective” and “2012 Freddy Garcia.” A whole lot.

  • Bonnie Parker

    The odds are not against Pettitte making a meaningful contribution to this ballclub. I would never bet against a competitor like Andy. Freddy has just given up but Andy will be ready and he’ll be our 4th starter. The competition for #5 is now between Phelps and Hughes. If you can’t outpitch Brian Matusz then you shouldn’t be pitching in the AL East.

    • Bartolo’s Colon

      his last start was pretty good. i hope he reverts back

    • jsbrendog

      freddy has given up? you know this how?

      • sangreal

        I wouldn’t agree with that characterization but we can go straight to the source since Freddy has talked a lot about how he feels

        “When you don’t do your job, what are they supposed to do?” Garcia said late this morning, not long after the Yankees finalized their decision to demote him into the bullpen. “That’s what happened. They’re honest. I don’t pitch the way I was supposed to pitch. It’s reality.”

        “When you play here, you play in New York, they expect you to pitch good,” Garcia said. “It’s not like when you pitch somewhere else. We play to win here. We don’t play to develop a player. Everybody here knows how to play. They don’t wait for anybody to (play better). One day, they’ll be good? No. If you’re good, you’re good, you know? It’s not like they wait for you to be good. That’s not how it works here.”

        • jsbrendog

          this in no way means or denotes him having given up. it shows he knows he has sucked and understands that as a result of that suckiness has been demoted.

          • sangreal

            I know, that is why I said I disagree.

  • Bartolo’s Colon

    i’m hoping it will be friday may 11, i got tickets

    • A.D.

      Very much agreed

    • jsbrendog

      garden gnome night, may 9, vs tampa….cause ill be there.

  • Kosmo

    I´m not sure what the pitching alignment is for Scranton in the next week but can it work out that Pettitte takes Mitchell´s next scheduled start, maybe it would hasten his ETA in the Bronx ?

    Hughes pitches great today:
    7 innings 4 hits 2 runs

    • JMK

      Hughes pitches great today:
      7 innings 4 hits 2 runs

      I wish you were right but there’s simply no reason to believe he’ll be effective.

      • Kosmo

        It´s not a question of believing just a wishful thought on my part.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        You gotta believe. What other choice is there?

        • Robinson Tilapia

          Yes, I did just unintentionally steal a Mets tagline. SMH.

          • dave

            Still the best banner I’ve ever seen at The Stadium: during the 2000 World Series in response to the Met’s tired “you gotta believe” YOU BELIEVE…WE KNOW!

      • J

        I hope you’re right. Apparently Hughes is frustrated about getting ‘beat’ on his secondary pitches and wants to go more fastball heavy which means more 2 strike foul balls and long at bats. I don’t expect him to pitch more than 5 innings at most.

        • Havok9120

          He hasn’t been doing any more than that to begin with.

  • Randi B.

    I’m happy to see Andy pitch again, but I’m cautiously optimistic. I still think that he needs some more time in the Minors. He will definitely make a good contribution to this team, but I’d rather it be later when he’s in best form.

    • jjyank

      Yeah I agree. If Andy is ready, then great. But I hope the Yanks don’t rush him due to our shaky rotation.

      • CountryClub

        If they were rushing him because of the rotation, he’d be pitching in KC this weekend instead of in Trenton. But the Yanks said all along that he needed 2 games at around 100 pitches before they’d bring him up. His next start will be #2.

        • jjyank

          Oh I know. I wasn’t claiming that they’re doing anything wrong. The plan is sound. But after his second 100 pitch start, they have to be sure he is ready physically. Just because he’s had two 100 pitch starts doesn’t mean he is ready necessarily. The plan is fine, I’m just saying that if it seems like he might need a third 100 pitch start or something, I hope they keep him down until they are as certain as possible that he will be 100% ready physically.

    • CountryClub

      They haven’t rushed him at all. He’s had a normal spring training, so I think after 1 more start he’s truly ready to come up. Plus he was throwing a lot before all this became official. But if they give him an extra start in the minors, I won’t complain (although he might since he’s already saying that he’s ready now).

      • jjyank

        Like I said above, I don’t think they’ve rushed him, so far. We’re saying that two 100 pitch starts only means something is Andy is 100% physically. I hope they don’t bring him up simply because he made two 100 pitch starts in the minors, but if they are confident that Andy is in his best form. If that takes a third start, or extra rest, or whatever, I hope they err on the side of caution. in that regard.

        • CountryClub

          Oh, I agree. He has to be right physically to come up. But they really have no way of knowing unless he tells them something is wrong. And he’s already trying to get his next start to be with the Yanks. They just have to trust that he’s telling them the truth.

          Part of me also thinks they shouldnt waste time. His legs probably only have so many pitches in them this yr. IF he’s ready, there’s no sense in wasting those pitches in the minors.

        • Slugger27

          if he is feeling 100% physically, why does he need to be in his best form to return to the rotation? all he needs to be is beter than the worst guy currently (which we all agree is hughes or phelps). if hes an upgrade and 100% physically healthy, he should be pitching in the bigs, whether or not hes in his best form.

  • CountryClub

    I have no doubt that he’ll be effective for as long as he’s healthy. Hopefully that’ll be all season.

  • Kosmo

    just for comparison´s sake , Clemens in 2007 at the age of 44 needed 3 tuneups , 15 total innings in the minors before making his first appearance in which he pitched 6 effective innings.
    I think alot depends on Hughes´ performance tonight and maybe Phelps on thursday, if they pitch well then Pettitte might take a little more time to get ready, if neither pitch well maybe then Pettitte is rushed because it becomes more urgent. Yankee relievers have thrown something like 76 innings so far this season which is a whopping number of innings, they can´t maintain that level without burnout.

    • Eric

      Clemens was also on steroids, you can’t really use that as a barometer.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        You have proof he was using PEDs in 2007? Get that weak game out of here, son.

        • Dummies Playing With Balls (formerly Rainbow Connection)

          Not sure if serious.

          • sangreal

            The steroid use accused of Clemens was long before 2007, I believe.

            • Robinson Tilapia


              • Robinson Tilapia

                And, if he was using in 2007, he needs to ask for a refund.

          • Robinson Tilapia

            Not sure if I give a crap….actually, I am pretty sure I don’t.

    • RetroRob

      Clemens also hadn’t taken 18-months off, was planning and training for a mid-season comeback from the start, and was a much higher-level pitcher than Andy with a much-better fastball. And believe it or not, the Yankees were is much more need of Clemens that year than they are of Andy right now. They didn’t have a Phelps, Mitchell and Warren to call on.

  • Indiana Frank

    I am itching for Phenom Phil to pitch a complete game two hitter tonite 96 pitches 12Ks 0 BBs 2 WP

    • MannyGeee

      they sell a cream for that.

    • jsbrendog

      while i would love for this to happen and am rooting for it, ina ll seriousness… is most likely not gonna happen

      • Indiana Frank

        You are lacking in faith Maybe you should be DFA’d

  • Cris Pengiucci

    This isn’t rocket science

    I have to agree with this comment. I work with rocket scientists and this is nothing like what they do. :-)

    • RetroRob

      Retlated, who decided rocket scientists were at the top of the intellectual food chain? Clearly, rocket scientists got together and hired the best PR agency money can buy!

  • Jonathan

    So cruel. I only get to see the Yankees the 3 or 4 games they’re in KC every year and it was possible he’d return at the start of May. I always seem to get shitty pitching matchups or get a Brad Halsey or Jeff Weaver here or a Kei Igawa there. I was at the game before where ARod hit 2 HRs off Gil Meche for 498 and 499 and K’ed against ex-Yankee Octavio Dotel in the 9th with a chance for 500. Even though I knew I had a chance to see ARod’s 500th HR and see my beloved Yankees I seriously considered not dealing with the drive and money because I knew what would happen with Igawa on the mound. Of course ignorant Royals fans harp on winning 1 out of 4 and the 1 against Igawa like they just won the World Series. ARod sucked until he hit his 500th ironically against the Royals but back in Bronx and Igawa was BRUTAL and it was the 3rd worst Yankees game I’ve seen. Check out the lineup:

    Either way at the start of the year I was dreaming of a CC/Kuroda/Pineda/Pettitte weekend but now I get Phelps and Hughes. At least back in the day I’d get something out of it. The Royals had a deal where if they got a dozen hits you could get a free dozen freshly and warm Krispy Kreme glazed donuts with your ticket stub. So when they get 13 hits in the first 6 innings or so you start picking up all the ticket stubs on the ground. My friend and I waited in line for almost an hour after the game and ended up with 10 dozen donuts….but we forgot to get something to drink. The 30 mile drive home was excruciating. We couldn’t stop eating them just like we couldn’t stop the thirst. Please bring Andy back early.

    • Jonathan
    • CS Yankee

      I think Hughes will either be Krispy or get Kremed.

    • Bo Knows

      There weren’t any gas stations, grocery stores along your 30 mile trip?

      • Jonathan

        Technically yes. There’s a truck stop about 5 miles from home but it was pointless. It was extremely late and we just sucked it up for the last 5 minutes.

      • RetroRob

        30 miles? I can do that in twenty minutes, especially on a Krispy Kreme sugar high.

        Don’t alert the authorities.

    • Midland TX

      Hilarious. Thanks for posting.

  • YankeesJunkie

    At this point it is pretty much make or break for Hughes for another just another start. His peripherals have not been terrible in that he is striking out more than a guy per inning while keeping the BB% respectable, but his off speed pitches have not been up to par. In all likelihood, Hughes could still give the Yankees some value in the pen as a set up man, he just unlucky that the Yankees already have D-Rob and Soriano ahead of him in that role.

    • CS Yankee

      If Hughes goes to the pen and Joba returns this year, we would have the following closers; who BTW, would all be better than what the BoSox have;
      1) Mo
      2) Ro
      3) So
      4) Jo
      5) Hu
      6) Co
      7) Lo

      See Hughes just doesn’t belong because he doesn’t have an “o”, he needs to maintain being a starter or traded away.

      • GardnergoesYardner

        The best reasoning I’ve heard all year.

      • Bo Knows

        could call Hughes “Ho” considering he’s been pimp slapped in each start this year

  • DJ4K&Monterowasdinero

    I am taking the position that Andy will struggle and won’t be the same guy. Hope to be wrong. I wouldn’t mind 2 starts each for Phelps and DJ and let Andy come up at the end of May.

    • CS Yankee

      I could subscribe to this thought if his “v-lo” was down to mid-80′s but he is sitting 88/89 from what I heard.

      Early May is best to get our 75 days of use…DL for late-July to mid August…late-August return thru WS, help win our 28th.

      • RetroRob

        He’s not quite at 88/89. His average fastball sat consistently right at 89 for four years (’07-’10) running, averaging 89.1, which means during the course of a game he’s throwing fastballs between 87-91. He’s off of that right now, which is hardly surprising. Reports yesterday had him averaging 86-88, which sounds like he’s down about two mph from 2010.

        That’s all positive to me. His fastball velocity has been inching up in each start and he’s holding it longer into each game. His velocity charts from 2009 and 2010 also show that his velocity increases as the seasons progressed, starting out averaging around 88, not too far off from where he seems to be right now, but he also would be able to reach back and hit 90-91 in each start. We haven’t seen that yet.

        If he can add mile and eventually starts hitting 90 peak so that he’s only about a mile off from 2010 Pettitte, then I don’t think there’s any reason to believe he won’t be effective. He can probably be effective averaging around 87. Lefties like Pettitte can pitch quite well at lower velocities than righties. It’s going to come down to his command.

        So I’m a little more optimistic than DJ4K. He may struggle at the start if he’s still working through some rust, but I expect Andy will eventually be able to deliver league-average innings and maybe a bit more. He’ll be a lesser Pettitte, but still effective.

  • Manny’s BanWagon

    Until I see otherwise, I’ll never believe Pettitte can’t get the job done. I don’t think he would have come back if he really didn’t think he could get hitters out.

    The only thing I worry about is his health but hopefully starting 6 weeks into the season will help him stay healthy through October. I’m sure Girardi will also skip a start here or there as well.

  • Cooking with Quarks

    Fortunately the Yanks don’t need vintage A.P. They just need a guy who isn’t going to let the game get out of hand by the third inning every time he starts. He should be able to do that.

    • RetroRob

      Exactly. The Yankees need a pitcher who won’t have them behind by five runs in the second. A starter who can give them five innings and hold the opposition to three runs will win more than he will lose on the Yankees. Hey, six innings and three runs, or the infamous “quality” start would be gold from the back-end guys right now. Pettitte can do this and maybe more.

  • Slu

    For the love of all that is holy, SKIP HUGHES!

    He has not earned a regular turn in the rotation at all. The more you can hide Hughes before Andy returns the better.

    I also disagree that the odds are stacked against Andy making a meaningful contribution to the team. I think the odds are good that he will make a significant contribution, if he maintains a reasonable level of health. He has do nothing to this point to show that he can’t largely be the same pitcher as he was before he retired. And the year off may have helped his body more than it hurt.

    • GardnergoesYardner

      What has he even done to this point? Pitched against a bunch of minor league scrubs?

      I think that his health so far has been encouraging and he should be an asset to the rotation, but the fact is that he is 40 years old, hasn’t pitched in a year and a half, and had a final season that was marred by injury. The odds are just as against him as they are for him.

      And to your point about skipping Hughes, I assume you take it that Phelps will be a regular contributor in the rotation, which would have to happen in order to skip Hughes. Hughes has a better chance of winning than Phelps does, to be honest.

      • Slu

        I disagree. I personally don’t think Phil has any chance to be an asset in the rotation.

  • Need Pitching

    wouldn’t Hughes be lined up to pitch again on Sunday though?
    Unfortunately, Monday’s off day wouldn’t prevent Hughes (or a replacement) from getting another start before the off day.

  • Kevin

    The fact we have to relay on someone who will be 40 this year who hasn’t pitched in a year shows how poor we are at developing pitchers..and acquiring them.

  • FIn

    I wouldnt mind seeing Andy be good in a 100 pitch start before coming up. 10H and 6R in 5.1 innings of AA work doesnt scream ready for NY. I understand he was probably working on things, but an all out effort in the minors before coming to NY couldnt hurt.

  • Tom

    Mike – I think your logic is off on the impact of the Monday offday.

    Since Hughes is the last starter before the off day (he is scheduled on Sun), there is no ability to move folks up a day. The 4 games after the offday are going to be non-Hughes starts no matter what as that is the normal rotation, so unless they bring back someone on short rest, there is no start to skip (unless the Yankees want to skip Phelps 2nd turn).

    Unfortunately since the offday comes directly after a Hughes start is is useless in terms of skipping him. And if they skip Phelps then they will need someone for Friday (which would be Hughes? Pettitte?)

  • RetroRob

    It’s been noted, but the only way Hughes doesn’t pitch again after today is if they pitch someone else this Sunday. That person won’t be Phelps since he’s pitching after Hughes this week, so that leaves either Hughes, Mitchell or Garcia for Sunday.

  • Brian

    I’m hoping Pettitte can have a positive effect for the Yankees similar to Paul Scholes for Manchester United who became a key contributor after coming out of retirement mid-season.