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Andy Pettitte's first start a mixed bag

By Dayn Perry | Baseball Writer
Andy Pettitte

Andy Pettitte returned to the majors on Sunday, and for a while he looked like his vintage self. The Yankees' lefty held the Mariners hitless through 3.1 innings, but then he walked Jesus Montero and then coughed up a homer to Justin Smoak. Pettitte was again cuffed around in the sixth and retired one batter in the seventh before being pulled.

On the day, Pettitte, in 6.1 innings of work, gave up four runs on seven hits while walking three, striking out two and serving up a pair of home runs. Of his 94 pitches, 60 went for strikes, and he also recorded 10 ground-outs. While there's some cause for optimism in there, it should be noted that Pettitte was, of course, working against one of the worst offenses in baseball (and one that's had serious problems against lefties in particular).

As for velocity, here are Pettitte's figures from 2007-2010 (courtesy of Brooks Baseball):

Pettitte's velocity

And here are Pettitte's readings from Sunday (again courtesy of Brooks Baseball):

Pettitte's first start

As you can see, the fastball is down by more than a mile per hour, but, considering age, layoff and how early it is in the season for Pettitte, that's not a source of concern yet. As for the seeming gain in velocity on the cutter, that's likely the result of a misclassification of pitches. The status of Pettitte's fastball, however, bears monitoring as he builds strength and the temperature rises.

What also bears monitoring if the 39-year-old Pettitte improves against offenses better than the one he faced on Sunday. What Pettitte showed us in his first start wasn't necessarily bad once context is applied, but it certainly wasn't good.

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