Andy Pettitte shocked the baseball world by coming out of retirement for one more go-around with the New York Yankees. Here's currently building his way back up to major-league status, but the Yankees kind of need him now.
The starters aren't really doing their job all that well. The relief are getting overworked. Sure, the Yankees are deep in pitching, but that doesn't mean they need to stash Pettitte away to never be used.
While Pettitte shouldn't be rushed to the majors, they do need his services. He needs to build up arm strength after being away from the game for a year and rushing him would do more harm than good. Pettitte needs to take his time to really be ready.
Pettitte won't be ready until later on in the season, but here's why he'd be useful now.
Out of the nine games the New York Yankees have played, they only have two quality starts. With all that talk of a deep and talented rotation, you'd think they'd have more than that.
Of course it's still early in the season and we shouldn't blow things out of proportion, but the small sample we have here says the starting rotation needs some help.
As a team, the Yankees' ERA is 3.93, good for 16th in the majors. A team ERA of 3.93 isn't bad, but being 16th overall is something the Yankees didn't picture themselves being with the rotation they have.
Andy Pettitte's experience can help bring some stability to the rotation. He's a known stopper and can turn the team around during a losing streak with a solid start. Pettitte has been known to get the job done, and he still can if what we've seen from spring training is any indication.
This might just be nitpicking, but with CC Sabathia, I'm used to him blowing guys away. This start of two games, 12 innings, nine runs is a far cry from last season's start of two games, 13 innings, zero runs.
With the starting rotation not at its best, it falls to Sabathia to right the ship. All of the pressure falls on him. However, of course, he's having his own troubles, too.
None of the other pitchers behind him were once top pitchers for a rotation. Hiroki Kuroda was never the Los Angeles Dodgers' ace. Ivan Nova and Phil Hughes don't have enough experience being in a major-league rotation.
The closest the Yankees can get right now is Freddy Garcia. Even then he never had the responsibility of setting the tone for the rotation, not to mention he wouldn't be my first choice to do it now.
Andy Pettitte has set the tone for the Yankees in years gone by. I'm pretty sure he can do it again.
His veteran experience would be welcomed by the Yankees, especially Sabathia. Sabathia can rely on Pettitte to help take the pressure off him so Sabathia can focus on his own struggles rather than the struggles of the team.
During spring training, everyone was raving about Phil Hughes like movie buffs were loving The Artist right around Oscar time. Nowadays, that luster has faded and we're left with a film that's more like American Reunion.
Everyone was excited when American Reunion was coming out, hoping it'd bring back some former glory from years gone by. When it did, it wasn't exactly what everyone thought it'd be.
Kinda like Phil Hughes.
Hughes hasn't had a quality start yet. He also has as many earned runs as innings pitched. The good news is that he's still striking out a bunch of guys.
There's more than enough time for Hughes to turn things around. However, just in case he doesn't and relapses into his 2011 mode, it's a good thing the New York Yankees have Andy Pettitte to turn to.
There was a good amount of expectations for Hughes coming out of spring training, and there's pressure on him to live up to those expectations. Beyond that, there's still some leftover pressure since he was once the Yankees' top prospect.
Andy Pettitte can help mentor Hughes since Pettitte knows what it's like to be a touted prospect from the Yankees' farm system.
The starters' innings: 50.1
The bullpen's innings: 31.0
That's not exactly the ratio I was looking for going into the season. At least the starters are still pitching more innings that the bullpen is, but that's still a lot of work for them this early in the season.
The New York Yankees' starting rotation only have two quality starts so far. While I'm not expecting perfect games every time they go out—well, except for CC Sabathia—I want my starters to go at least six solid innings, or even a strong five.
Everyone worries about the innings a starter pitches, but the same goes for relievers. If they get overused, then they won't have anything left come August and September when the games matter on a whole different level.
Andy Pettitte can help give the bullpen some rest by giving sold innings. He won't complete games and he's not as young as he used to be, but he can still pitch and go for five to six innings.
There's just something about lefties that make managers and front office heads fall for them. It's probably because hitters are used to seeing right-handed pitchers, but lefties are in high demand.
Whether in the bullpen or in the rotation, managers always look for lefties to take up a spot. They have a natural advantage just because they throw with a different hand. I mean, even Sabathia is right-handed but learned to throw left.
Pettitte is left-handed, obviously. The only other starter for the New York Yankees who is also a lefty is Sabathia. I'm sure Joe Girardi wouldn't mind having another lefty starter.
Lefties make managers reconsider their lineups and approach. Managers might have to use a lesser player because they hit better against lefties than the guy who's usually in. They might even be a lesser defender.
Look at the Brett Gardner/Andruw Jones platoon. Who's better for the lineup, Gardner and his speed and on-base skills or Jones and his right-handed power?
I'll leave that up to you, but left-handed pitchers make a manager think just a little more at the very least.
Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova are both 25 years old. David Phelps, the long man in the bullpen, is also 25. Then there's Michael Pineda, Adam Warren, Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances.
They're all young guys who could be expected to take on higher roles should the rotation continue to perform poorly. A good amount of them still need some more seasoning in the minors before being in the majors.
Pettitte can help keep those guys in the minors where they belong. He can mentor the younger, less experienced pitchers who are in the majors for the New York Yankees right now. A young rotation has its benefits, but you still need the veterans around to help out the youngsters.
Before Pineda went down with an injury, the Yankees would've had three starters under the age of 25. And as we've seen happen before, a rotation with that many young guys doesn't necessarily spell success for the Yankees.
Going off of the last slide, the New York Yankees can use some of that veteran leadership Pettitte will bring. Pettitte's played in the majors 16 seasons, won five World Series, is a three-time All-Star, has the most postseason wins ever with 19 and has a career record of 240-138.
Long story short, Pettitte's been in just about every single situation and knows how to handle it. The same can't be said for some of the other pitchers.
Phil Hughes has spent five years in the league, but he's been shuffled between the minors, the bullpen and fought off injuries. Taking all of that into account, it's more like three years.
Ivan Nova was a rookie last year. Hiroki Kuroda's been stateside for only four years. Then there's Freddy Garcia, who, with his 13 years of experience, has been to the minors too recently and too many times for my liking and doesn't have Pettitte's track record.
Pettitte can be a mentor. All of the experience can also help him on the mound. There's the reputation factor and the fact there's a been there, done that approach with him. Not like the others who haven't been in the situations Pettitte's been in.
And again: five World Series rings. Enough said.
Players who make a comeback have one thing all other players lack: the comeback, competitive flame.
The guys who comeback have a fire in them and are still hungry for more. They want to prove they're not done. They want to prove they can still do what it takes to win games. That hunger is different from the competitiveness in active players.
Comebackers are considered old, washed up and fragile. They want to prove that image wrong.
Pettitte came back to prove that. He obviously still has a competitive flame within him—otherwise he wouldn't have come out of retirement.
That edge and fire can mean the difference in tight games. It might be able to give him that little extra something to finish an inning or get a big strikeout.
I want a guy who has something to prove playing for me rather than a guy who's just doing it for the paycheck.
The New York Yankees, for the first time in a long time, have more pitching than they know what to do with. Compare that to last season when the Yankees were begging for pitchers. Heck, compare that to the last decade. I mean, really, Sidney Ponson and Jaret Wright?
Anyway, all those pieces mean that the Yankees can pull off a trade if they need to. When Pettitte comes back, a couple of guys are going to become expendable. The sooner he returns, the faster the Yankees can decide whom they can part with.
The Yankees look good right now, but you never know later on in the season. A season-ending injury might require another player who's major-league ready to take his place rather than having a gap-filler called up from the minors.
They also might be looking to upgrade at a position. Raul Ibanez's been good so far, but will he keep it up? And how much longer can Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez play in the field?
Pettitte's return could set into motion the wheels to get the front office thinking about upgrades. We've all seen what the other teams in the AL have to offer. The Yankees might need an upgrade somewhere to keep up.
If nothing else, Pettitte's comeback is a nostalgia trip to the glory days of the New York Yankees. This is one last ride for Pettitte and he wants to do it in style—hopefully with a championship at the end of it.
Pettitte was never really done. He just needed a break last year to figure it out and see if he really was ready for retirement. Turns out he wasn't and he's back for one more ride.
Also, this might be the last time Mariano Rivera will be playing. The Core Four are slowly dwindling. Retirement is nearer for the survivors. No one wants to admit it, not even Pettite who left and came back.
Bringing him up ASAP will let the nostalgia ride begin sooner than later. I'm a sucker for all that sentimental and nostalgic stuff.
Besides, what better way to end two legendary careers and a season than to have Pettitte pitch and win the clinching game of the World Series with Mo closing it out?