Longtime Yankees postseason star Andy Pettitte told several teammates he had absolutely “nothing” after hanging in six innings to win Game 3, and now he is being entrusted to summon something better with only three days’ rest in Game 6 Wednesday. Pettitte is the all-time winner in postseason play with 17 victories, but if a younger A.J. Burnett lost so much in the three days from Game 2 to 5, there is wonder even within the Yankees clubhouse about how this will all work out.
Pettitte won more respect from teammates for hanging tough in a game where he not only didn’t have his best stuff but by his own private accounts to longtime friends actually had zero. Zip. Nada.
Three Yankees teammates recounted how Pettitte told the team he took “nothing” (his word of choice) out to the mound for Game 3. But even beyond his self assessment, the plan for short rest for the Yankees’ three vaunted starting pitchers was always seen as by far the most worrisome in the case of Pettitte, who at 37 is five years Burnett’s senior. Plus, Pettitte is 5-7 lifetime on three days’ rest (compared to Burnett’s 4-0 mark going into his Game 5 disaster), and Pettitte hasn’t done it once since he was a youngster of 34.
“Andy will be ready to go. He’s a competitor,” Cashman said after Burnett’s Game 5 debacle, when Girardi was still officially leaving the door slightly ajar to turn elsewhere. “All these guys wanted to take the ball. Andy’s looking forward to it.”
That’s somewhat reassuring. Yet, one person in the Yankee hierarchy said, “The only thing that worries me (about Games 6 and 7) is that both (Pettitte and Game 7 starter CC Sabathia) are going on three days’ rest.” So even within the inner circle of the storied franchise, there is still a smidgen of unrest about the lack of rest.
Here’s the thing with Andy Pettitte – look at this pitch counts since 9/21/09:
9/21: 91 pitches
9/27: 97 pitches
10/3: 95 pitches
10/11: 81 pitches
10/19: 95 pitches
10/25: 99 pitches
10/31: 104 pitches
So, if Pettitte is only good for, on average, 95 pitches when throwing on normal or extended rest, how many pitches will be be good for on three-days rest? Say, maybe, 85 pitches? Is that going to be enough for the Yankees in Game Six? Time will tell…