Is Andy Pettitte the Difference Between the Wild Card and a Division Title?

Bill FordCorrespondent IIIMay 24, 2012

The New York Yankees have caused quite a bit of stress and concern among the fans since the start of the 2012 season. With injuries and illness, and the lack of performance from some key players and pitchers, the Yankees have gotten off to a surprisingly slow and painful start.

Each season, the Yankees are expected to make it into the postseason with a strong record all season long. Although the season is still young, New York is headed down a dark path that may be difficult to reverse if it keeps heading in that direction.

The pitching staff has been a source of heartache, with an occasional solid performance. Phil Hughes has shown some signs of turning things around, but he still remains inconsistent, and it's difficult to have faith in him.

CC Sabathia is the No. 1 guy on the mound, but even he isn't pitching as well as he should be with a 3.78 ERA.

In the article that I published a few days ago, I wrote about the Yankees suffering due to multiple players' injuries and illnesses. Several Yankees being out, or having been out, because of these issues has resulted in poor performances and losses.

The loss of these players, especially Mariano Rivera, has led to a severe decline in the morale of the team.

Any true Yankees fan wants the Yankees to win, and win big. Sure, a wild-card spot gets them into the postseason, but there's nothing like winning the division. Winning the division creates a powerful team presence and a perception of greatness.

That powerful presence and perception develops motivation and intimidation.

With all of the struggles that the Yankees have dealt with so far this season, how do they get into the postseason with a division title instead of a wild-card spot?

The answer may very well be Andy Pettitte. I will admit that when I heard the news that he decided to come out of retirement and pitch again for the Yankees, I was very concerned. I wasn't sure if he still had the skills, since he is a little older and had been out of the game.

The more that he pitches, the more I see that he is still powerful on the mound and has solid command. He was and will always be a well-respected leader, and that is precisely what the Yankees require right now.

As of right now, Pettitte has a win-loss record of 2-1, 19 strikeouts, a 1.078 WHIP and a 2.53 ERA in 21.1 innings pitched.

He is a three-time All-Star, a five-time World Series champion and the 2001 ALCS MVP. With his return from retirement, Pettitte has a career win-loss record of 242-139, 2,270 strikeouts and a 3.87 ERA.

The Yankees no longer have their "Core Four" dynasty, but with Pettitte's return, he will regain his position as one of the core players in the Yankees' success.

With his talent, skills, command and presence, the Yankees have dramatically increased their chances of winning the division title. He can't do it alone. The entire team must produce consistently, and we all know that there are some issues there.

To win games, a team must be strong offensively and defensively. Adding Pettitte into the pitching mix helps, and I think that he will lead the Yankees to more wins. But, as I said, the team must come through for him and give him support.

As the Yankees win more games, it will build their confidence. Pettitte will lead them.