Andy Pettitte struck out 10 batters in shutting out the Rays for 7.1 innings last night, improving his ERA to 2.78 in five starts since coming out of retirement.
And afterward the Yankees left-hander admitted to Bryan Hoch of MLB.com that even he’s surprised by how well he’s pitching at age 39:
The feel for all my pitches has just gotten better, I feel like. I feel like as long as I can stay healthy and you carry somewhat of a velocity on your fastball to keep hitters honest, if I can keep moving the ball around and keep the feel of my pitches, I feel like I’m going to be how I was when I left. I’ve said it, you don’t really know what to expect coming back, but I’m obviously pleasantly surprised so far that I’ve been like I’ve been.
Pettitte’s average fastball has lost some zip, going from 89 miles per hour before retirement to 87 miles per hour now, but his secondary numbers show that his first sub-3.00 ERA since 2005 isn’t merely a fluke. He’s inducing more ground balls than ever before and has a 32/7 K/BB ratio in 36 innings for his best strikeout rate since 2004 and the best strikeout-to-walk ratio of his 17-year career.