July 31, 2009

Pettitte pitching analysis

For the first time in a long while, I was able to watch the Yankees on TV. As a pitcher myself, I was delighted to watch two pitchers go at each other inning after inning. Gavin Floyd clearly had the better stuff (95 MPH fastball, sharp curveball), but Andy Pettitte was able to match him for six innings with basically one pitch.

According to BrooksBaseball.net, Pettitte used 47 fastballs, 23 sliders, 22 cutters, seven changeups and only two curves. That confused me a little because I always thought the big breaker he used for backdoor strikes on righties was his curve, a pitch Pettitte used several times.

It was amazing to see a guy who averages 89.06 MPH with the fastball compete like Pettitte did with a guy who hits 95 consistently. If you look at it that way, you could make the argument that Pettitte actually pitched better than Floyd last night because he practically matched him with less.

The one thing these two pitchers had in common was their ability to paint the black. It seemed nearly every pitch on either corner was called a strike by HP ump Ted Barrett. Some might say he had a wide zone, but I give a lot of credit to both pitchers for throwing borderline pitches all night.

Pettitte finished with eight Ks over 6-1/3 and Floyd finished with 10 Ks over 7-2/3. Seven of Floyd’s strikeouts were called on his curveball. According to MLB.com’s Gameday, six of Pettitte’s strikeouts were swinging on his cutter. A called fastball and a swinging slider accounted for the last two.

According to BrooksBaseball.net, Pettitte’s cutter has more horizontal break than Mariano Rivera’s legendary cutter. Don’t get me wrong, Rivera’s moves at the last second and is indubitably considered the best cutter of all-time. However, Pettitte’s ability to spot his cutter like Mo is what made him incredibly effective last night.

After watching Pettitte last night, I now have a newfound confidence in him as the third starter for the Yankees. He lost last night to a better pitcher and because a couple of freak-like errors from himself and Robinson Cano in the seventh inning. I feel for Pettitte, I really do. But at the same time, I’m very pleased with his performance and am excited to have him for the rest of this year.

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