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The numbers Pettitte accumulated on Wednesday afternoon all say he's back with no strings attached. He pitched five scoreless innings, gave up only four hits and two walks, and struck out three.
What's not to like?
It was a good outing, to be sure, but also well short of perfect. Pettitte pitched well, but he also very much looked like a pitcher who was on the DL for nearly three whole months.
Pettitte's stuff isn't what it used to be to begin with, but some of his pitches looked flatter than usual on Wednesday. His breaking stuff, particularly his slider, wasn't very sharp, and that left him little choice but to toy with hitters using mainly his fastball and cutter, along with a few changeups mixed in.
I'm nitpicking, of course, but I'm not alone here. One talent evaluator told Erik Boland of Newsday that Pettitte's stuff was merely "average." Yet another evaluator went so far as to describe some of Pettitte's stuff as being "sloppy."
Flat stuff wasn't the only problem Pettitte dealt with on Wednesday. Though he only walked two in his five innings, his command was a little off.
In his first nine starts before he was forced onto the DL by a line drive that fractured his left ankle, Pettitte was throwing 66 percent of his pitches for strikes. He also had an uncharacteristically high swinging-strike percentage of 12 percent, which goes to show how well he was keeping hitters off balance.
On Wednesday, Pettitte threw 61 percent of his pitches for strikes, and got only four swings and misses. After the game, he didn't have any problem admitting that his pitches weren't always going where he wanted them.
"Didn't feel like my command was as sharp as I would have liked it to have been,'' he said.
Reasons to panic?
Not really. Pettitte wasn't as sharp as a knife in his first start of the season either. He started picking up steam after that first start was in the books, and it stands to reason he'll do the same now in what's left of the season.
Reestablishing his stuff and finding his command again aren't his only priorities. He also needs to build his stamina.