Too much hope placed on Pettitte?

If this story happened a season ago and say Pettitte un-retired after he retired after the 2010 season, there would be less hesitation here. After all, Pettitte’s 2010 season was pretty darned good. But Pettitte hasn’t pitched for an entire season and is another year older. Can we really expect him to be effective? What are our expectations? Frankly, any expectations beyond being a league average pitcher is a stretch. If Pettitte is at least that, then we can be happy. The Yankees’ fifth starters have not been league average, so Pettitte would be an improvement. But, is even that expectation too high?

Pettitte’s peripherals in the minors this season seem to be the same old Andy. He is striking out 6.9 batters per nine innings. That is right around his 6.6 historical rate in the majors. He is walking 1.8 batters per nine, a little lower than his historical rate (though it has been higher in the starts at higher minor league levels). His WHIP in his minor league starts are nearly identical to his major league rate for his career. He has not given up a homer in any of his minor league starts this season. Most projection systems consulted before this piece suggest that Pettitte will be right around his normal peripherals when he returns to the big leagues. But is that realistic?

Frankly, I don’t know what to expect from Andy Pettitte. It all seems a crap shoot. But then again, predicting a 37 year old shortstop would be leading the majors in hitting in May would seem just as pie-in-the-sky. Great things could happen and Pettite could win ten games. It just seems a lot to ask of a guy who has missed baseball for a season and is forty years old. If he was a right-handed pitcher, I wouldn’t even consider any hope. But lefties last forever. I would settle for major league average. Again, that would be an improvement. But it also seems beyond the realm of reality and comprehension.

I guess we will just have to see because, before you know it, Andy Pettitte will be on the mound and pitching for the New York Yankees. That thought is just as scary as it is fun to consider.

About William Tasker

William Tasker grew up in Bergenfield, New Jersey but has lived in New England since 1975 and in the far reaches of northern Maine since 1990. Tasker is the author of nine (non-baseball related) books and, besides writing here for three years, has written for his own site at since 2003.

6 thoughts on “Too much hope placed on Pettitte?

  1. Yes. There IS too much hope, and I AM a little scared.

    Andy 'should' be better than Freddy – that's not the highest bar in the world. But a lot of folks are talking as if they expect him to take Pineda's place, and maybe even fill the void at #2. If he does – great – but I liked his comeback a lot better when the team didn't NEED him.

  2. William wrote: "If he was a right-handed pitcher, I wouldn’t even consider any hope. But lefties last forever."

    Two questions on that:
    1) What are the average career lengths for starting pitchers based on whether they pitch right-handed or left-handed?
    2) If they are indeed different, any idea on what would cause that to be the case?

    • Great question, forged. The statement was rather a flippant one. But even a flippant statement reflects current thinking. Let me dig into that question and get back to you in future days.

  3. MY hope is that he can come in, give the Yankees some stability and be a serviceable number 5. Nothing more, nothing less.

    No, he won't solve our Hughes problem, but Hughes stepped it up yesterday (i'm not taking much stock into it however). Kuroda has suffered because of poor defense behind him. It seems every start he has, there is a first inning error that allows the other team to score (courtesy of Nunez usually).

    My point is that when the rotation starts to click a little more, people will expect a little less of him. All they need from him is to not let the game get out of hand, which he is capable of. The better those around him pitch, the less the expectations.

    • actually – Derek Jeter made the first inning error on Saturday; but really – Kuroda was so bad, it wouldn't have made any difference. He looked like Freddy – every ball he lofted to the plate got hit and hit hard.

  4. Between Garcia and Pettite, we sure are paying good money for our fifth starter this year.