Rushing Andy because there’s no other choice

Thoughts following the walk-off loss to the Sox
Yankees, MLB release 2013 schedule
(Jeff Zelevansky/Getty)

The Yankees are two games under .500 in the second half despite winning five of their first six games after the All-Star break, and it’s been nearly a month since they last won consecutive games. Injuries have played a part in the second half slide, most notably long-ish term problems for Alex Rodriguez (hand) and now Mark Teixeira (calf). That’s two important middle of the order bats missing and a big reason why the Bombers are hitting just .232/.312/.371 as a team since the start of the White Sox series in Chicago.

The good news is that A-Rod is back and has hit the snot out of the ball since coming off the DL (last night notwithstanding), and Teixeira should return before the end of the season. Mariano Rivera isn’t coming back, but Andy Pettitte continues to inch closer to a return. Doctors cleared him to begin running on Monday, and today he’ll throw his third and longest simulated game since Casey Kotchman fractured his leg with a comebacker. The club has hinted at bringing Pettitte back before he’s fully stretched out to 90+ pitches, something Joe Girardi reiterated yesterday.

“It depends on how his leg feels after 60 pitches (today),’’ said the skipper when asked how soon Andy could return to the rotation. “If we feel he can move around and compete enough in a game, it’s conceivable.’’

The “moving around” part is often overlooked but very important. The Yankees don’t want to bring Pettitte back only to have him be unable to field his position when the other team inevitably tests the leg with some bunts. That said, the reason they’re even considering rushing him back before he’s fully stretched out is because the guys currently in the rotation aren’t getting the job done. David Phelps has struggled lately and Freddy Garcia can’t even complete five innings of work these days. Phil Hughes has pitched well and keeps his team in the game more often than not, but he always seems to be on a brink of disaster given his homer problem.

“It’s just a matter of what they want to do,” said Pettitte. “I want to pitch and help, but it’s not up to me … It’s up to them to make the decision. I want to pitch.’’

Ivan Nova is fresh off the DL and it seems all but certain that he’ll make Garcia’s next start, but he hardly inspires confidence given how he was pitching before he got hurt. Still, it’s likely to be an upgrade the same way a not fully stretched out Pettitte will be an upgrade over Phelps. Counting on a 40-year-old to recover from a broken leg to pitch effectively in a race for the division crown is a lot to ask, but at this point the Yankees really don’t have any other choice. As long as the offense continues to underwhelm, upgrading the pitching staff is their best way to improve down the stretch. Even if it’s only 70-80 pitches at a time.

Thoughts following the walk-off loss to the Sox
Yankees, MLB release 2013 schedule
  • Better off Eddard

    There is no room for error. If there was we could be patient with Andy. Darrell Rasner and Sidney Ponson are awful and need to be taken out of the rotation. Nova is a slight upgrade and Andy at 80% is a significant upgrade over 4/5th of the current rotation.

    • Mark

      Sidney Ponson and Darrell Rasner don’t pitch for the Yankees. So next time you make a argument learn more about the team.

      • SomeoneCallMoose

        I think he was making reference to 2006… when both pitch limited starts for the yankees, and not well.

      • Nice Scheister

        Pretty sure it was a joke, referring to Phelps and Garcia as this years versions of Rasner and Ponson.

        • DC

          But with Eddard, you never know if it was a joke or not.

          • jjyank

            Beat me to it.

    • http://n/a gazzoo52

      Relax everyone , never list first place even with all our injuries , still can’t get the big hit w risp that’s what we need

  • Frank Messer

    Yanks win a shootout tonite and then lose another high scoring game in extras tomorrow

  • Jose M. Vazquez

    Good to know that Andy will be back soon. However, no matter how good he pitches, he has to have some offense behind him. So let’s hope that is the case and for the other pitchers as well.

  • not that mike

    Its absolutely pathetic that this roster and team is breathlessly awaiting the return of an unretired, injured pitcher to throw perhaps 15 innings down the stretch as the biggest hope to save their season.

    I admire the b*lls the Sox had in dismantling their team, even though it completely upset their season. They did this once before ( 2004), and that set the stage for a really good run for the next few years as well.

    The Yanks could/would never do that, and in fact I cannot remember when they traded one of their top 2-3 players to revamp their roster….maybe Murcer/Bonds 1974?? Bonds/Figueroa+Rivers in 1975? It would be a stretch to include Soriano/Arod in that equation because of Soriano’s limitations and the absolute net-gain of talent with Arod….but even that was almost 10 years ago,

    The last time the Yanks were a grizzly is 2008 offseason, and it resulted in 2-3 very good years (not including this one). My fear is the coming financial challanges they are facing will really result in their biggest weapon being taken from their arsenal, and with their ineptitude in developing pitcihing and position players magnified because of the international draft rules, this might be a problem going forward of epic proportions

    • David

      You know the Yankees are still in first place right? It has been frustrating, but it’s not like they are suddenly the Red Sox or something.

  • jjyank

    Save us Andy!

    • split-finger


    • Alkaline

      JJ, thought of this with your kill them all comment:

      Every time I think this team makes the necessary step and gets a big win, they seem to come back with a huge disappointment. They just can’t put it together consistently.

      • jjyank

        Haha that’s pretty much what I meant by “kill them all”.

        Considering I’m almost always an optimist, I’m clinging to the hope that the poor play of late means they’re getting it out of the way before they got hot in October.

  • David

    An opposing team would never, ever test a pitcher with an injured ankle by bunting or some other such tactics. Just ask Joe Torre, or Curt Schilling. #stillbitter

  • Chris

    “The Yankees don’t want to bring Pettitte back only to have him be unable to field his position when the other team inevitably tests the leg with some bunts.”

    -Thats what everyone said about Curt Schilling before Game 6 in ’04. Its time for Andy to go from Hero to Legend status and carry us to the playoffs!

  • Kingslayer

    “The good news is that A-Rod is back and has hit the snot out of the ball since coming off the DL” Jeesh!! Mike, please get real!

    • Hardy

      I looked up A-Ros’s stats since coming of the DL. He slugs .500(32 AB, 8 hits, 2 2B, 2 HR) what I think qualifies for “hitting the snot out of the ball”.

      More interesting, however, is that the top article linked on A-Rod’s fangraghs site is this:

      I totally agreed with it when it was published just ten weeks ago, but today…

      • Kingslayer

        I consider what Mark Reynolds has done for the past month as “Hitting the Snot out of the ball”, which is why Baltimore is where they are today.

  • Andy Pettitte’s Fibula (formerly Manny’s BanWagon)

    At this point, the options are pretty limited so why not rush Andy back. I’d take him on 1 leg over Garcia, Nova and Phelps right now.

    This ship is sinking faster than the titanic so it’s pretty much all hands on deck.

  • Mr. Sparkle

    Unless Andy is going to be able to hit, particularly with runners in scoring position, he’s not going to make any difference. The problem isn’t that they’re losing blowout games. They’re losing games where one or two clutch hits would make a difference and they never get those hits.

  • RetroRob

    It may be asking a lot of Andy, but it’s also all they got.

    The 40-something pitcher is a far superior option to the 20-something pitchers.

  • FreeAgentSignee

    Get well Andy!