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Pettitte will have a bounce-back year

In case you haven't noticed amid all the turmoil of spring training, Andy Pettitte has arguably been the Yankees best starter.

With another stellar outing, Andy dropped his ERA to a miniscule 0.79 (1.23 counting two minor league starts).

Not that spring stats are a sure-fire predictive sign of the upcoming season, but they're certainly encouraging.

No one can argue 2008 wasn't disappointing for Andy. He posted his highest ERA since 2002 (4.54), and struggled mightily down the stretch, running up an ERA of 6.23 over his last 11 starts.

As we know, Andy had a 'sore' left shoulder the latter half of the year. How much his ineffectiveness was caused by the injury is hard to say, but we can safely assume a fair amount since his stats ballooned beyond any reasonable expectations.

And despite the shoulder problem, Pettitte's peripheral stats were still above average (for him). His K/9 rate was higher than his career average, as was his K/BB and groundball rate. Generally speaking, if you want to find success, follow the strikeouts. He also had lower line drive and fly ball rates.

The reasons his ERA was inflated were due to an unusually high BABIP (.339) and HR/9 rate (.84), both of which were higher than his career averages. His FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) ERA was a far more Pettitte-like 3.71. This all points to bad luck.

So we have a pitcher that suffered from injuries and bad luck last year, and is having an exceptional spring training. The odds those problems strike again aren't too high. We can expect very good things from our fourth starter this year.