Is it time to worry about Andy Pettitte?

Lefty's recent struggles leave wonder about his status
07/02/2013 1:02 PM ET
By Lou DiPietro

Andy Pettitte has recorded just three quality starts in his last 10 outings.(AP)
Between Phil Hughes’ roller coaster season, injuries up and down the roster, and an offensive malaise that has been team-wide at times, the Yankees have had plenty of talking points for the naysayers this season.

But is it now time to start worrying about Andy Pettitte?

On Tuesday night, Pettitte became the franchise’s all-time strikeout leader in a game the Yankees won 10-4 – but he lasted just five-plus innings and allowed four runs, the last courtesy of a Chris Parmelee solo shot leading off the sixth that chased the veteran lefty.

Overall on the season, Pettitte is now 5-6 with a 4.40 ERA, but since his return from the DL on June 3, he’s just 1-3 with a 5.15 ERA in six starts over the last five weeks, and since starting the season 3-1 with a 2.22 ERA and four straight quality starts, he has gone 2-5 with a 5.46 ERA in 10 starts, only three of them quality outings.

On Monday, he was hit hard in the first inning, allowing three of his six hits and two of his season-high-tying four walks en route to a three-run inning, and the Twins had a 2-1 lead before an out was even recorded. Pettitte rebounded to pitch four scoreless innings after the rocky first, but when Parmelee chased him, it marked the third time in six starts since his return from the DL that he has gone six innings or less (and second time he’s officially gone five or less).

After the game, the lefty repeated a familiar refrain, saying he was disappointed in the way he pitched, but now more than halfway into a season that has seen him struggle on the mound and miss multiple starts due to a pair of back issues, there may be a common refrain from fans and media alike: with Pettite now into his forties, is this rocky patch simply a slump, or a sign that Father Time is catching up to Pettitte?

Of course, for those who choose the latter, one must remember that the same was said about Derek Jeter in the first half of 2011, and he rebounded to hit .327 in that second half and .316 in 2012, racking up 300 hits in 222 games in that time.

Pettitte himself returned after breaking his leg last season and threw five strong starts, three down the stretch and two in the playoffs, and his pedigree suggests he can turn it around again – but with uncertainty in the back end of the rotation and a struggling offense, the Yankees will need the southpaw to be the veteran stopper he so often has been to help them stay afloat in the second half.

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