Andy Pettitte had one of his best games of the season last night, and Jose Molina was behind the plate. Pettitte had this to say after the game:
Pettitte hadn’t thrown his cutter very often over his last couple of starts, he said, but went back to it tonight. He relied solely on that and his two-seam fastball. He threw just one changeup, which was hit out of the park by the second batter of the game, Nick Markakis.
And for a moment, Pettitte thought his typical 2009 start was beginning once again.
“I won’t say exactly what was going through my head,” Pettitte said. “That was a changeup. It was exactly what I wanted to do. It was down. And he hit it out.”
But he didn’t allow another runner to score. When he was ahead in the count, he put hitters away. And after the game, Pettitte wondered aloud if maybe the solution to the inconsistency of his cutter is to just throw it more.
“When it doesn’t do what you want it to do, you shelf it,” Pettitte said. “Jose [Molina] is like, ‘I’m calling it. It’s your pitch.’ It just got better and better.”
With Molina, Andy’s career K/BB is 3.06. That signals more dominance and a better understanding for one’s pitcher than we’ve seen as of late with Posada and Pettitte. It’s a strange development when you consider how good Andy and Jorge were before Andy’s stint with the Astros.
Arlen Faber hd download Ike: Countdown to D-Day One could attempt to explain this unraveling via Pettitte’s pitching style, though. Prior to 2004, Andy’s first year with Houston, Andy pitched using a lot more fastballs. Once he joined the Astros, he began to pitch differently, throwing fewer fastballs and more junk, as his fastball had been hampered by injuries. However, when he rejoined the Yankees—the year Jorge caught him—his fastball was where it had normally been in his career (around 88-90 or so), leading to a solid season with Jorge calling games. But, since 2007 he has lost about a single mph on his fastball (from an average of 89.1 in 2007 to 88.5 in 2008 and 88.6 in 2009). In 2008, when he lost that mph, Jose was catching him—Jorge and Andy were terrible together—and called for fewer straight fastballs, fewer changeups and more cutters. He seemed to realize that Andy had lost some velocity and therefore adopted new strategies to counter the lack of zip. In 2009, though, Jorge, not Jose, is back to catching Andy and is thinking of the 2007 version with the solid fastball (he didn’t figure out Pettitte in 2008 and he hasn’t totally figured him out in 2009). The cutter that helped Andy in 2008—about 30% of his pitches were cutters—has been swapped out for more fastballs, curveballs and changeups.
The suggestion here is that Jorge may have learn the “new” Andy Pettitte and focus on utilizing the cutter, while Molina already works well with him and that particular pitch. Although last night’s start and Pettitte’s comments suggest that there may be something here in terms of throwing more cutters, the gamelog shows that Pettitte threw about 18% cutters, which is about the ratio he has thrown all season. However, his velocity on the cutter was up 4mph, to 87. It seems that it was not a matter of throwing more cutters, but having a better cutter, that helped Andy last night. Nevertheless, this is something that may be worthwhile to watch, as the secret to success for Andy Pettitte may be discovered in that cutter.
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