Assuming A-Rod and Pettitte come back 100% healthy, I expect them to provide exactly what they have given the team so far. Pettitte will be a great pitcher who gets the job done, and A-Rod will be a shell of his former self but still an above-average third baseman. However, I don’t think the former will continue his high strikeout rate, I think that will regress. Although I do think he will be a factor in the postseason. You can call me a homer (and not be far off base), but I have a feeling Pettitte is going to turn in a vintage postseason performance this year.
As for A-Rod, I think he will keep doing what he’s doing — not be worthy of his contract but still be one of the best third basemen in the game. Say what you want about his decreasing power, but he still gets on base (.358 OBP). Plus, his defense is still stellar. I also think that once he comes back somebody (looking at you, Wally Matthews or Andrew Marchand) will write a stupid article about how the team is better off with Eric Chavez at third.
Andy Pettitte and Alex Rodriguez provide, above anything else, much needed depth to the Yankees as we hit the home stretch. A-Rod will be an upgrade over Eric Chavez and Casey McGhee, but the duo has done a fine job as replacements so far, so Rodriguez will add at most a few runs for the next month and a half. More importantly, though, A-Rod’s presence in the roster gives the Yankees more flexibility, allowing them to have value at third base while still keeping the team rested for the playoffs.
Pettitte, similarly, will be a clear upgrade over David Phelps as a starting pitcher. However, Phelps had performed fairly well as a starter, and Pettitte will likely add no more than a win for the Yankees for the rest of the season. But having Phelps, and later Freddy Garcia, in the bullpen will give Girardi more flexibility and the starting rotation more rest going into the playoffs.
For me, Andy [is clearly more important]. Without Pettitte, the Yankees don’t have a fallback plan if Sabathia loses Game 1. Plus, the Yankees need a big game starter like Pettitte if they have to go on the road the first two games and somehow lose the first one. Without A-Rod, the Yankees have enough bats, but they don’t have enough arms without Andy in the mix. I figure pitching will be better than offense especially if Alex [is] the same guy that [won't] hit in the clutch like last season. I know Andy 9 times out of 10 comes through.
I’d expect Pettitte to find his groove back in the middle of the rotation. Since it wasn’t an arm injury, I think he more than likely won’t face that “dead arm” syndrome and should be good to go for the playoffs. Andy’s a veteran so I’d hope he could bounce back.
For A-Rod, I’m not expecting too much, but that’s not a slam towards him. Eric Chavez has done so well in A-Rod’s absence that really, it becomes hard to justify benching Chavez. However, with the money we pay A-Rod, he obviously won’t be benched, but I’d expect him to do more DH work on and off.
As for me, I’d agree with what Matt said for A-Rod. I’ve been very impressed with the performance of each of the back-up third basemen during A-Rod’s absence, but his presence in the lineup makes it more difficult for the opposing team to maneuver around the Yankees lineup. I also think that despite Chavez’s recent outburst, he is better served in a role off the bench in the long run.
I’m interested to see how Pettitte responds early on when he returns. He’s basically starting from scratch again, so he may not be up to full speed until close to the end of the regular season. But, assuming he is healthy, he makes for a very good number two or three starter for the Yankees in October. I’d have no problem seeing Andy get the ball over Ivan Nova or Phil Hughes in the playoffs.