Pettitte has mixed history while pitching on short rest
NEW YORK -- Recently,
Or, more precisely, it's what he hasn't noticed.
When the 2009 season began, the veteran left-hander couldn't help but glance across East 161st Street to the old Yankee Stadium on his daily commute to the new ballpark. As the season progressed and the new digs became more familiar, however, his habits changed.
"I haven't been looking over quite as much anymore," he said.
Now charged with winning his third series-clinching game of the same postseason, a feat accomplished once before by
Pettitte is the postseason's all-time winningest pitcher (17 wins), who has also won more career clinching games (five) than anyone in history. That body of work is impressive, but it's also extensive, which is a polite way of saying he's not young.
At 37, Pettitte has remarkably put together a 15-year career in which he's never had a losing season, but he isn't quite the paragon of perfect health he was in his first seven years, when he never made fewer than 30 starts. It was, after all, for a serious elbow injury that Pettitte admitted to a few uses of human growth hormone in order to heal more quickly. Most recently, Pettitte skipped a start in mid-September with shoulder fatigue.
In his previous World Series start, in Game 3, Pettitte later confessed to teammates that he had "nothing" on the mound and said roughly the same to the press, admitting that he had been heated up and ready to pitch, until the 80-minute rain delay struck. After that, Pettitte said, he got by on guile and that it was a serious "grind" on the mound. Tonight he'll face old nemesis
The very phrase "shoulder fatigue" is not encouraging for a pitcher who's attempting to start on just three days' rest. Even Pettitte admits that fatigue is, of course, the natural primary concern for such a start.
"I guess you'd probably fatigue a little bit quicker than you normally would," he said, "just because your body gets so into a routine of pitching on every fifth day and then you're shortening your rest time a little bit."
The Yankees will have the benefit of closer
It was interesting to note that in his postgame press conference after the Game 5 loss, manager
Girardi did not have any other realistic options, however, as
To start Tuesday's press conference, Girardi preempted the expected query asking him to confirm his Game 6 pitcher. As Girardi sat down before the assembled media, he leaned into the microphone and announced, "Andy is our starter tomorrow. We'll eliminate that question." Asked what assurance he received from Pettitte, Girardi replied by saying he asked his starter, "How do you feel?"
"He said he felt great," Girardi said. "It doesn't take more than that. This is something that we talked about, and we're still very comfortable doing it, and he's our guy tomorrow."
In his postseason career, Pettitte has made five starts on three days' rest: three exceptional (World Series Game 2 in 2003 and Game 5 of both the ALCS and World Series in 1996), one mediocre (1997 ALDS Game 5) and one terrible (2000 ALDS Game 5). He's also made 14 career regular season starts on short rest, going 4-6 with a 4.15 ERA.
But none of that track record means anything, even though Girardi said Pettitte's history on short rest is "important."
"For me, my mindset is just going to be the same as normal," Pettitte said. "I'm not going to try to blow balls by guys. I'm going to try to pitch like I normally would."
Supporting his pitcher, catcher
That's why Pettitte may be successful tonight, if only for five or six innings. He shouldn't suffer poor results from the 3-4 mph drop in velocity that Yankees ace
"I don't know how I'll feel," he said. "I know I felt terrible the other night and I was on six days' rest. I just, you know, am going to go as hard as I can for as long as I can."
Pettitte has noted how strange it's been the last couple years not to see
He likely won't have that handwritten inspiration, but Pettitte does have this -- the realization that he'll have five months to rest his fatigued shoulder before making a meaningful start again.
"We have the whole offseason to rest," Sabathia said. "Leave everything out there."