Then there’s the question of performance. Pettitte, of course, hasn’t faced major league hitters since October of 2010, and though he won’t be the first pitcher to return after a year away from live action, at 40 years old there’s no guarantee he still has much left in the tank. On the plus side, however, the people who have seen him pitch in the minor leagues thus far have given him strongly positive reviews, especially for his command. That’s most welcome news, since it’s command that’s going to make or break him in the big leagues. The days of Pettitte the power pitcher are long gone, but Pettitte has already successfully transitioned into being the kind of starter who navigates an opposing lineup with precise command of multiple pitches and an expert grasp on the art of pitching. If those skills are sharp, and the arm is in good shape (most reports have his fastball maxing out around 87-88 MPH, which isn’t too far below the 89 MPH he averaged with the pitch in 2010), there’s a good chance Pettitte will be just what the doctor ordered for the Yankees. He won’t get many Cy Young votes, I don’t imagine, but the Yankees won’t need that from him, just one more pitcher who can give them a chance to win in the majority of games he starts.
The Yankees, and most of their fans, probably thought the days of calling on Andy Pettitte to save the day were behind them for good. Now, in the most unlikely of circumstances, they could really use one more heroic effort from the crafty ole’ lefty.