Andy Pettitte and Whitey Ford share the same amount of wins and a similar job description as outstanding left-handed aces for the Yankees. Pettitte’s path to 236 victories may not be as pretty, but it’s one that doesn’t seem to have an end in sight.
Ford’s masterful control won him 236 games before health problems forced his retirement at age 38. Pettitte is just two weeks away from turning 38 and hardly showing any signs of decline. For the first two months of 2010, Pettitte has shown a remarkably balanced pitching repertoire, which won him his seventh game yesterday in an 11-2 rout of the Cleveland Indians.
Pettitte allowed a Jhonny Peralta home run in the second among four hits and struck out five without a walk in seven innings. He retired the final 14 Indians, and is 7-1 for the first time in his career.
“I found a cutter and I got a little cutter happy and just threw cutter, cutter, cutter,” Pettitte said. “I lost the feel of my changeup. It took ... surgery to almost figure out how to learn to pitch again because I pitched so many years with just fastballs in, cutters in and not being able to really run the ball away to righties like I would like to.”
The surgery Pettitte referenced was on his left elbow during 2004 with the Astros. He returned to lead the Astros to the World Series the following year.
“He’s a lot different pitcher than he was in 1996,” manager Joe Girardi said of his former teammate. “He was more one side of the plate with his fastball, cutter. He used his curveball and an occasional changeup.
“Now he throws that cutter on both sides, he has two different fastballs. He uses his changeup more. He’s just a lot different than when I caught him.”
The results have actually been appearing since last August. Including the postseason, Pettitte is 16-3 with a 3.14 ERA over his last 25 starts.