Pettitte Continues to Win
Amazingly, pitcher Andy Pettitte has never had a losing season in the big leagues. This alone should win him high honors but all the 37-year-old left-hander really wants to do is compete every fifth day.
The only time the New York Yankees’ hurler came close to posting a sub-.500 season was 2008, when he went 14-14. It was a bad year all around for the Yankees, who had a 13-year streak of making the playoffs come to an end.
Even though Pettitte is a 15-year veteran, he has more than held his own against the highly-sought after free agents C.C. Sabathia and A.J. Burnett, along with the hard-throwing Joba Chamberlain, who worked last Sunday and helped push New York past the visiting Detroit Tigers for a three-game series sweep.
The Yankees are one game behind the Boston Red Sox in the American League East, and figure to make another serious run.
A 223-game winner, Pettitte is crafty but has enough velocity to get the ball past the batter, as evidenced by his nearly 2,100 strikeouts.
Pettitte relies primarily on a bevy of off-speed material and a once-lively fastball. Now it’s curveball, change-up and slider.
A 21-game winner in 1996, his second season, and 2003, Pettitte’s job is to help steer the Yanks to yet another playoff berth. So far, Pettitte has an 8-5 record but his earned run average is a career high, 4.85.
Pettitte was drafted by the Yankees in the 22nd round in 1990 but didn’t sign. A year later, he inked a deal as an amateur free agent with New York, and would see his first action in 1995, where he had 26 starts, and went 12-9. Pettitte was even given a start in the AL Division Series against the Seattle Mariners but had a no decision.
Based on his work in the postseason, Pettitte would be labeled a “money pitcher.” In slightly more than 218 innings, he has a 14-9 record, and owns a 3.96 ERA.
Pettitte has been especially effective in the AL Championship Series, having gone 6-1 with a solid 3.92 ERA.
New York won the World Series in 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2000, and was runner-up in 2001 and 2003. In no uncertain terms, the Yankees’ pitching staff was the driving force, and Pettitte was a key cog.
It was then Manager Joe Torre’s thinking to usually start Pettitte in Game 2. In case the Yanks fell in the opener, Pettitte would save the day with an almost sure win.
Not all was peaches and cream in the Big Apple, where owner George Steinbrenner was always barking about trading Pettitte. Time and again, Torre and his staff refused, and it paid off.
The indignity became reality following the 2003 season, as Pettitte opted to sign a free-agent deal worth slightly more than $30 million with his hometown Houston Astros. Pettitte said the Yankees didn’t value him, nor appreciate him.
In three seasons with Houston, Pettitte went 6-4 but was limited to 83 innings in 2004, then recovered and went 17-9 with a career-best 2.39 ERA, and 14-13 with a 4.20 ERA.
The Yankees realized their mistake and opened their arms, and massive pocket book, with Pettitte earning $16 million the past two campaigns.
By most accounts, Whitey Ford, who won 236 regular-season games, 10 World Series games and is a Hall of Famer, is the Yankees’ best pitcher. Pettitte would be second, which isn’t bad.