The loss of Andy Pettitte really put a kink into the New York Yankees’ rotation, especially since they lost CC Sabathia at the same time. However, the rotation has responded a little bit better than expected. Hiroki Kuroda has been a bit roughed up lately, but still has held his ground as the second man in the rotation. Freddy Garcia has been the most surprising out of any starter. Garcia has won his last two outings and with ease at that. Ivan Nova had a tough start Sunday against the Los Angeles Angels, but overall, has pitched like we have wanted him to. Phil Hughes is the last piece of this rotation that really holds it all together. Hughes’ 2012 season has just been flat out impressive. Sabathia is due back Tuesday and will start against the Toronto Blue Jays. For Pettitte though, it’s a different story. According to the Yankees’ official website, Pettitte will at least need six more weeks to heal his ankle. In the meantime, how will the rotation respond without him?
The latest report on Pettitte’s ankle was a positive one. The X-ray’s came back “good” on Andy’s ankle, but we more than likely won’t see him until early September, or late August if you’re an optimist. As of Sunday, Pettitte is also off his crutches and walking boot as he was spotted at the clubhouse following the game. Pettitte himself is rather positive about returning from his injury and had this to say about his ankle:
“I’m not going to be able to run for a while. I’m able to do all the bike work and stuff like that, and swim. The reason why it’s healing up is ’cause everything I’m doing is bicycle [work] and just trying to keep as much weight off of it as I can.”
Having Pettitte back will definitely help build our case for October. With Pettitte being off of crutches already, clearly he’s improving on a timetable that will have him pitching before the season ends. Andy’s playoff experience is quite valuable to the Yankees as he leads the entirety of MLB with 19 career postseason wins. His position in the rotation will not change, nor should it. Heading into September, I’d expect Pettitte to be the third man in the rotation as he was before the injury. This season, Pettitte was 3-3 with 59 strikeouts, an ERA of 3.22 and a WHIP of 1.09.
So what does this mean for the rest of the season? Well, in Pettitte’s absence, I assume Garcia will maintain the role. Garcia has not looked bad at all and is starting to make me eat my words on him from awhile back. That’s a good thing however, and with practically every starter doing well, this gives Pettitte as much time as he needs to come back from his fractured ankle. Even when Andy returns, Garcia was performing well in the bullpen so it’s a win-win situation. As the old saying goes, you can never have too much pitching. That saying is very true, especially in regards to starting pitching.
The greatest thing about having Andy back was he hadn’t skipped a beat since 2010. Age is a mental aspect in my mind and if he still has baseball in him, who is to say 2012 is his last year? While he is concentrating on returning for September and the postseason, there is the potential that Pettitte could pitch in 2013. I’ve speculated before as to what the Yankees’ rotation would look like next year; if Andy is successful at the end of the season and playoffs, perhaps we’ll see him next season in pinstripes. For now, the Yankees will have to go without Pettitte for a little bit longer, but when he’s back, the rotation will be one of the best in the majors.