Pineda on Pause, Pettitte to the Rescue

They say you can never have too much pitching.

In March when the Yankees announced Andy Pettitte would be coming out of retirement, many thought he would be a luxury. With the acquisitions of Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda, and the resigning of Freddy Garcia in the offseason, the Yankees seemed to have too many arms and not enough spots to put them.

Now just a little over 20 games into the season and a little over a month after his return to baseball, Pettitte seems to be an absolute necessity for the Bombers.

On April 25, when Yankees fans learned Pineda had a right shoulder anterior labral tear sidelining him for the rest of the season, Pettitte was scheduled to throw about 80-85 pitches for AA Trenton. At the same time in Texas, Phil Hughes couldn’t make it out of the third inning, surrendering four earned runs.

Pettitte will probably throw two more rehab games. Yankees GM Brian Cashman has stated they want him to throw around 100 pitches in back to back starts. Pettitte is scheduled to start for Class A Tampa on Tuesday night.

Pettitte’s return seems to be at the right moment for New York, assuming he picks up where he left off. Behind CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova, the Yankees have received inconsistent efforts from their remaining three starters thus far.

There’s no doubt Kuroda can pitch. Some early season struggles shouldn’t be a surprise as he adjusts from the feeble NL West to the powerhouse AL East. He’s turned in mixed results through four starts.

The Yankees have been waiting on Hughes to develop into the high-end starter they projected him to be about five years ago. His inability to put away hitters causes his pitch-count to skyrocket far too early in games. He’s currently 1-3 with a 7.88 ERA. Hughes will start Monday night against the Orioles in the Bronx.

Since he can no longer throw in the low to mid 90’s, Garcia has been getting by on location and changing speeds. After a good season last year in New York, it seems as if hitters have figured out his tricks. Through four starts, Garcia is 0-2 with a staggering 12.51 ERA – far from his success last year.

When Pettitte returns someone has to go. Now that Garcia has been demoted to the bullpen, David Phelps is taking his spot in the rotation. Phelps figures to keep the spot warm until Pettitte returns. Even though Hughes’ stuff translates better in the pen, Garcia’s struggles couldn’t be ignored anymore.

If All-Star Pettitte from 2010 shows up he will contribute greatly. He can grind out innings which can give the bullpen important rest, something the Yankees haven’t been able to do too much early on.

What once was a feel-good story to the 2012 Yankees has turned into a very important signing.  The once crowded Yankees rotation will receive a much needed shot in the arm should Pettitte return without much rust from being out of the game for a year. The offense can’t keep masking inconsistent pitching when Sabathia or Nova aren’t on the mound.

Throughout the years, Pettitte has saved the Yankees in October. Now he has a chance to save their rotation in May.

The “Pettitte Stare” is returning shortly. Conveniently and thankfully right on time.

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