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Entries in Andy Pettitte (7)

Friday
Mar162012

Andy Pettitte Breaks out the Cutter, Unretires

Turns out, Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter won't be the only active members of the Yankees' vaunted "Core Four" in 2012. No, Jorge Posada isn't coming back. Rather, we haven't seen the last of Andy Pettitte giving hitters a piercing stare over his glove as he gets the sign. After sitting out 2011, Number 46 has returned to the Bronx on a minor league deal reportedly worth $2.5 million.

Last we saw him in 2010, the lefty was limited to 129 innings due to a groin strain but was still highly effective when on the bump. He struck out seven hitters per nine, walked 2.9 and boasted a 46% ground ball rate, good for a 132 ERA+ that trailed only CC Sabathia among Yankees starters.

The key for Pettitte was the cutter. That darting low-80s offering, thrown about one-fifth of the time, limited hitters to a .132 average, a .187 on-base percentage and a .271 slugging percentage. By contrast, batters hit .263/.322/.410 overall against cutters in 2010.

Pettitte uses his cutter as a chase pitch, going to it 44% of the time in two-strike counts. He gets ridiculous chase and whiff rates with the cutter. Check out hitters' swing rate by pitch location versus Pettitte's cutter in 2010, and then the league average:

Hitters' swing rate by location vs. Pettitte's cutter, 2010

Average swing rate by location vs. cutters, 2010

Opponents chased 47% of Pettitte's cutters off the plate in 2010, tied with Cleveland's Josh Tomlin for the highest rate among starting pitches. And those chases led to lots of empty swings. Look at batters' contact rate by pitch location against Pettitte's cutter, and then the league average:

 Hitters' contact rate by location vs. Pettitte's cutter, 2010

Average contact rate by location vs. cutters, 2010

Hitters missed 40% of the time they swung at a Pettitte cutter, the second-highest clip among starters (Washington's Craig Stammen was first).

If the now 39-year-old Pettitte still has his cutter, he'll eventually join an already-deep starting mix including Sabathia, Michael Pineda, Hiroki Kuroda, Ivan Nova, Phil Hughes, Freddy Garcia and prospects like Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances, Brett Marshall, D.J. Mitchell and Adam Warren. So much for that whole, "the Yankees don't have enough pitching" meme.

Friday
Feb042011

Andy Pettitte Battling

With the retirement of lefty pitcher Andy Pettitte, the Yankees will be down a solid starter for the 2011 season. Pettitte developed a reputation as a "battler", fighting in and out of jams towards the end of his second stint with the Yankees. It's possible this view is simply a matter of selective memory. However, a quick look at some of his numbers suggests he was a better pitcher when he had his back against the wall.

Andy Pettitte 2008-10
PABB%K%Cntct%AVGOBPSLGwOBA
Overall24227.5%18.2%80.3%.268.322.403.326
Men On Base10279.0%17.6%78.4%.281.342.426.350
→ w/ No Outs2465.7%16.7%84.3%.284.305.394.329
RISP56410.3%18.4%77.4%.275.340.418.351
→ w/ No Outs1094.6%8.3%89.5%.341.330.459.377
Loaded537.5%24.5%71.0%.178.245.289.251
→ w/ No Outs60.0%16.7%100.0%.000.000.000.000

Pettitte wasn't doing anything special with runners in scoring position. However, with the bases loaded, his K-rate jumped 6% while managing a greater rate of swings and misses. Since 2008, in the 6 plate appearances in which he faced a bases loaded, no outs situation, Pettitte yielded no hits, no walks, and struck out one batter looking (Kendry Morales on September 10, 2008).

When he had his back to the wall, Andy Pettitte was at his best. The Yankees will surely miss that toughness this year.
Tuesday
Nov162010

Andy Pettitte's Cutter

Andy Pettitte is undecided about returning for another season with the Yankees. All indications are that if he does return, this will be his last season.

Andy has been an effective pitcher for the Yankees since his return to the team in 2007. In fact, he was working on one of his best seasons yet before succumbing to injury in July of this year.

For Andy, it's all about the cutter. The success of every outing is almost entirely determined by how well he's throwing his cut fastball, and he's been very proficient at locating the pitch. This is one of the big reasons he's done so well late in his career.

Andy Pettitte's Cutter vs. LHB 2008-10

Andy Pettitte's Cutter vs. RHB 2008-10

Andy Pettitte's Cutter since 2008
PPAAVGSLGwOBA
vs. LHB518167.151.233.169
vs. RHB1037293.223.385.299

In 2010, Andy's cutter ranked in the 95th percentile in opponents' AVG, SLG and wOBA, as well as Contact%. One more year of that, or something close to it, would help the Yankees' rotation considerably, and may even be necessary if Lee signs elsewhere.