Andy Pettitte lost his last post season start just recently against the Orioles. It was his eleventh post season loss and brought his overall career post season winning percentage down a peg to “just” .633. If he wins, it will be his twentieth post season win and will pad his record that no one is likely to ever match. He is as synonymous to the post season as the Yankees are.
Is his post season record overrated? Perhaps a tad. His post season ERA is 3.83. The overall numbers won’t grab you by the throat. 6.7 strikeouts per nine with 2.5 walks. He has allowed 9.3 hits per nine innings with a 1.352 WHIP. There is nothing there that is spectacular. His post season “heroics” are likely the same result as Derek Jeter‘s. If you have enough reps doing a certain thing, there will be great things that happen that people remember. That doesn’t make him a lock. But it does mean that he ‘s done this more than anyone else.
There have been times when Andy Pettitte really did not perform well in the post season. He lost both his starts and got pounded by Cleveland in the 1997 ALDS. He lost both his starts and got pounded by the Diamondbacks in the 2001 World Series. He won both his games against the Phillies in the 2009 World Series, but gave up seven runs in eleven-plus innings. He hasn’t been perfect. But he’s had his great moments too.
In his last three post season starts, he has been remarkably consistent. Seven innings each time, two runs allowed twice and three this last time against the O’s. He’s not walked more than one batter in those three starts. It seems as if he has gotten this thing down a bit after all those post season starts.
But that is not surprising. Pettitte’s average post season start has lasted six and a third innings. He usually keeps his team in the game. The Yankees are built to score runs. If Pettitte pitches to his norms, he has a great chance to win.
What really sets Andy Pettitte’s post season experience apart is the same as Derek Jeter. Both have pitched and played in more post season games than anyone. Ever. And what they have managed to do in all those reps is to exactly mirror what they have averaged for their entire careers statistically. They both have not risen to new heights. But they have both not lowered themselves either. What they are in the post season is exactly what they have been in the regular season and there is something to be said for that. Do it long enough and often enough and good things will happen. And good things have happened to both for a long, long time.
Having Andy Pettitte on the mound for the first game of a league championship series does not guarantee a win. But just knowing that nobody has done it more often is comforting. For a Yankee Universe, it just fits real well…like the gloves the fans will be wearing in the stands tonight.