Andy Pettitte did a great job in his return back to the Bronx, as he worked hard and didn’t push himself too fast too soon avoiding a potential setback that would have ruined his comeback attempt. That was the easy part, now for the hard part.
Pettitte is now 39-years-old and hasn’t thrown a single pitch in the big leagues since 2010 when he pitched against the Rangers in the ALDS. That season he was as good as ever despite a groin injury that cost him nearly two months. He had a 3.28 ERA, a 7.0 K/9, and a 2.9 BB/9 in 129 innings. His manager Joe Girardi said he expects a similar level from Pettitte even though he’s taken a year off.
“I kind of expect him to be what he was in 2010,” Girardi told Sean Brennan of the NY Daily News. “I don’t know if that’s quite fair after taking a year and a half (off). But that’s what I know and that’s what I’m used to seeing, really grind-out starts, him getting big double-play balls, him doing things to help himself get out of innings. So those are the things I’m used to seeing.”
Now, those expectations might be a little high. In the three previous seasons before 2010, Pettitte averaged a 4.25 ERA, a 6.6 K/9, and a 2.9 BB/9 and that may be a little more in line with realistic expectations.
Now can he meet those expectations? Chances are good. Pettitte worked hard and he seems highly motivated. He took a year off, but that might actually be a good thing as his arm, shoulder, and groin should all be 100 percent. Pettitte was also never a fireballer, more of a pitcher who relied on guile to make him successful. It’s really more about hitting his spots than being able to throw 90+ mph.
The one concern is that he hasn’t pitched very well against minor league competition this year. That is a legit concern, but it shouldn’t be a huge one. What Pettitte went through was essentially his spring training and Raul Ibanez is just the latest of many examples of why spring training stats don’t matter.
I don’t expect big things from him right away, but he is facing a Mariners lineup that is too aggressive for their own good. It is really a perfect team for him to get his feet wet against. Even if he doesn’t pitch well today, fans shouldn’t overreact. It may take him a few games to regain his consistency. As long as he is healthy, Pettitte should be fine. We’re just going to have to wait and see though.