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.