When Andy Pettitte came off the disabled list earlier this month, he and the Yankees talked about cutting down on some of his work between starts. He’d been used to throwing two bullpens, but it was suggested that he cut down to just one. Pettitte’s been doing that, but in four starts since coming off the DL, Pettitte hasn’t been happy with the results.
“I’ve got to use my fastball, and when I get it where I want to get it, I’m getting guys out with it,” he said. “I just need to get sharper, whether it’s my focus, whether it’s maybe a little bit more work. I knew I would probably go back to that eventually. Maybe I need to do a little bit more work on the side. I haven’t been throwing my (second) pens, and as my back gets back in shape, that’s something I want to maybe get back to.”
Pettitte has a 4.91 ERA since coming off the disabled list. He hasn’t been walking many guys, but he hasn’t been happy with his command within the strike zone. He’s getting hit too much, and it could be that more work between starts will help make his fastball a little sharper, but there also seems to be a fine line between trying to get better and doing a little too much.
Back in April, Pettitte had been terrific through his first two starts of the season, but then he missed one start while dealing with an early back issue, and he wasn’t nearly as good when he came back. It seems possible that he should have taken a little more time off the first time his back hurt him.
“There’s no doubt I lost my release point, I lost my command,” he said. “Whatever was going on in my back was jacking with that, there’s no doubt about that. I pitched with it, and then obviously it moved up into my upper back (and resulted in the DL stint). I feel like I’m getting back to normal and I think as long as my body feels good, I’m going to get back to where I want to.”
In this disappointing month of June, Pettitte seems to know the problem. The only question is how best to fix it.
“Really, to tell you the truth, (the extra bullpen) hasn’t even been an issue,” he said. “But I know my last two starts my command in the zone hasn’t been that great. I feel like I’m able to throw the ball somewhere where I want to, but I need to be able to hit the corners. I don’t throw for the middle of the plate. When you leave balls over the middle of the plate, you’re going to get hit.”
Associated Press photo