Looking for a second half rebound from Andy Pettitte

Mike Stobe

If the Yankees are going to reach the playoffs, they'll need Andy Pettitte to right the ship in the second half.

Andy Pettitte has always been known "Ol' reliable" over the years. Though nothing more than a number two or three starter, Pettitte could be relied on to give the team innings while limiting runs at a reasonable rate. This season hasn't been the same, however; Andy hasn't been quite as reliable as we're used to seeing and that needs to change in the second half.

After rolling out of the gate through four starts (2.22 ERA, 3.65 FIP), Pettitte has really hit a wall since, pitching to a 5.27 ERA in 13 starts since April 29, though he has pitched to a solid 3.81 FIP in that same span as well. In fact, on the season, Pettitte's ERA(4.39)-FIP(3.75) differential of 0.64 is the sixth-largest in the American League. Could he be running into some tough luck? Maybe. His 20.6% line drive rate, however, is the highest it's been since 2006. No matter how you look at it, the Yankees haven't gotten what they hoped they'd get from their veteran lefty so far.

Injuries have also played a role in Andy's lackluster 2013. He missed a couple of starts in April due to lower back spasms, while a strained trapezius forced a DL stint a month later. Injuries have sidelined Pettitte for various chunks of time in his last three seasons dating back to 2010. This should come as no surprise considering we're dealing with a pitcher who is now in his 40's. Also, since returning from the trapezius-induced DL stint, Pettitte has made all eight of his scheduled starts, but has pitched to a 4.96 ERA. One can only wonder if he's still feeling lingering effects from the injured trap muscle.

Another struggle for Pettitte this season has been the first inning. The grizzled veteran has a 7.31 ERA in the first frame of his starts this year, compared to a 3.82 ERA in every other inning. Who really knows why this is the case. He could be having trouble warming up before his starts, or it could be the fact that he's only throwing once between starts instead of two times like he used to, which is something that started right before he came off the DL in early June.

No matter what Pettitte's problems are, they need to get resolved in a hurry. These next seven (or 11, depending how you look at it) games may very well be make-or-break for the Yankees and they need to get their supposed number three starter back on track. For what it's worth, Pettitte has a career 3.64 ERA and 3.27 FIP in the second half, versus a career 4.06 ERA and 3.89 FIP in the first half, so hopefully he can continue that pattern. Given the ugly state of the offense, the Yankees need all the pitching they can get, and it starts tonight with Pettitte in Boston against the first place Red Sox.

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