Andy Pettitte’s first start back is a C+

Andy Pettitte returned to the mound yesterday as he threw 94 pitches over 6.1 innings and allowed four earned runs on seven hits, three walks, and two strikeouts. It wasn’t a great outing, but very solid as he was able to maintain his velocity and use all of his pitches to varying degrees of success. Overall I would call it a C+.

“It felt good,” Pettitte told Josh Thomson of the Journal News. “It felt like I never left. It really did.”

Everything considered, a C+ is a solid grade. He would have had to have blown away the Mariners to get an A, which he clearly did not do. If the results were a little bit better, if he had given up two or three runs instead of four he probably squeezes out a B. Against the Mariners though, with a young a overly aggressive lineup, a 6.1 inning and four run outing lands him a C+ in my book.

It was encouraging though. He was able to stay in a similar 89-87 mph range that he was in for most of his 2010 season and maintained that velocity all the way to the 7th inning. He was able to throw all of his pitches. His control was good, but could have been better particularly with his fastball which he complained about after the game. But the control wasn’t awful and it appeared to be good enough that once he settles into a groove he’ll be able to handle it better.

He only made two significant mistakes all game long. The slider to Justin Smoak hung and caught way too much of the plate and a weak cutter up and away that Casper Wells deposited into the seats. If he had thrown a better 3-2 pitch to Jesus Montero the at bat before Smoak’s homer, this could have been a totally different game.

Right now the thing he has to work on is just staying healthy and making his starts every fifth day. If he can do that the control will return and he may even add an extra MPH or two to his fastball. This was a positive game even though he didn’t end up helping the Yankees win.

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