Ever since it was announced that Yankees legend Andy Pettitte will be making a comeback this season, Joe Girardi has reiterated that he expects the 39-year-old lefty to be as good as he was when he last donned the pinstripes in 2010. Despite dealing with a groin injury that caused him to miss some time, Pettitte went 11-3 with a 3.28 ERA that season — his lowest since 2005. That tells you just how high the Yankees’ expectations are for a guy who spent a full season completely out of baseball.
“I don’t know if that’s quite fair after him taking a year and a half, but that’s what I know,” Girardi said. “I’m used to seeing him grind out starts, him getting big double play balls and doing little things to help himself get out of innings.”
Pettitte’s results while pitching in the minors over the course of the past month have been mixed. While he has displayed the type of pinpoint command that he was known for prior to his retirement, his fastball velocity was in the high 80s and he did get hit occasionally by minor league ballplayers.
Without a doubt, it will be a nostalgic day for Yankee fans to see No. 46 toe the rubber once again, but the real question is what role the Yankees will be looking for Pettitte to assume? If he’s going to be a back-of-the-rotation starter, I’d have enough confidence that he can battle his way through and give them five to six quality innings more often than not. But with no clear-cut No. 2 behind CC Sabathia, many Yankees fans are hoping that Pettitte — who turns 40 on June 15 — will be that guy.
“I think it’s important,” Girardi said when asked if Pettitte will need to be a major contributor for the Yankees to contend. “You look at the division that we’re in and you look at the American League. The idea of fighting for a playoff spot – I know it’s only May – but I think it’s really important that Andy is Andy.”
Associated Press photo