UPDATE: The Yankees just announced that Andy Pettitte left tonight’s start with a tight left trapezius muscle. That’s the upper back and neck area. It’s not clear whether he’ll need to miss any time.
9:24 PM: Here’s a potentially troubling development for the first-place Yankees.
According to Bryan Hoch of MLB.com, Andy Pettitte left tonight’s start against the Mariners in the fifth inning with an apparent injury. The veteran southpaw appeared to be in some discomfort after he struck out Jason Bay and Kyle Seager to begin the frame. He was pulled from the ballgame after being visited by Yankees manager Joe Girardi and a team trainer.
No word yet on the exact nature of the injury, but it’s worth noting that Pettitte was skipped from a start last month due to back spasms.
Pettitte allowed two runs on four hits and three walks over 4 2/3 innings before exiting. The 40-year-old has a 3.83 ERA and 39/15 K/BB ratio in 49 1/3 innings over eight starts this season.
You hear a lot about pitchers tipping pitches. It’s often offered up post-facto as an excuse for poor performance by the pitcher himself or his own team. It’s sort of like the “best shape of my life” thing being offered in the offseason to talk about why the player got injured or played badly the previous year. “Smitty’s stuff is still great, he was just tipping his pitches,” said a source close to the player whose stuff is not really great anymore.
Which isn’t to say that pitchers don’t tip pitches. Of course they do. Opposing teams look for it, pick up on it and take advantage of it whenever they can. It’s just that (a) the opposing team has an interest in not talking about it, lest the pitcher STOP tipping its pitches; and (b) the guy actually tipping his pitches doesn’t want to talk specifically about it lest he starts doing it again.
Which is what makes this article at Sports Illustrated so interesting. In it Tom Verducci talks to an anonymous Houston Astros player who explains how Dodgers starter Yu Darvish was tipping his pitches during the World Series, leading to him getting absolutely shellacked in Games 3 and 7. The upshot: the Astros knew when a slider or a cutter was coming, they waited for it and they teed off.
Darvish is a free agent now. I’m guessing, whoever signs him, knows exactly what they’ll gave him work on the first day of spring training.