Andy Pettitte will try tonight for his 219th win as a Yankee. He is in third place on the all-time Yankee list and is within shouting distance of the all-time leaders: Whitey Ford (236) and Red Ruffing (231). He would already be the Yankees' all-time leader except for George Steinbrenner's ill-advised decision to let him leave after the 2003 season.
His Yankee career record is 218-125 with a 3.96 ERA and a 1.378 WHIP. His career totals are 255-151 with a 3.86 ERA and a 1.355 WHIP.
After tonight, Pettitte will probably make one more start this year and, if things go well, could finish the year with 220 wins. He is on a one-year $12 million contract and his plans for next year are unknown. While he is no longer the Pettitte of old, he has pitched well enough to show that he could pitch for at least another season. He is 10-9 with a 4.04 ERA and a 1.402 WHIP. To pass Ford, Pettitte would probably have to pitch for at least two more years. Even if he wins his last two starts, he would still need 17 wins to pass Ford and he has not won that many games since 2005 (with Houston).
The $189 million payroll edict likely means that Pettitte would have to take a pay cut next year, but that may not be a problem. He pitched last year for $2.5 million, far below his market value. With Phil Hughes likely to depart via free agency and Hiroki Kuroda also a possible departure, the Yankees could use Pettitte in their rotation next year. He has symbolic value because he is one of the last remaining players from the late ‘90s dynasty. For many fans, watching him brings special pleasure because of his intensity and his high pitching IQ.
The two pitchers in front of him - Ford and Ruffing - are both in the Hall of Fame, so passing them would be quite an accomplishment.
Ford pitched for the Yankees from 1950-67 with two years lost to military service. (In those days, success in the World Series often meant that a draft notice would soon be in the mail. Ford went 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA in the 1950 Series and was in the Army by the time the 1951 season began). His career record is 236-106 with a 2.75 ERA and a 1.215 WHIP.
Ruffing pitched from 1924 to 1947. He started his career with the Red Sox and pitched for the Yankees for 15 years. Counting his years with the Red Sox and a final season with the White Sox, his career record is 273-225 with a 3.80 ERA and a 1.341 WHIP. His Yankee totals are 231-124 with a 3.47 ERA and a 1.282 WHIP.