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For the better part of this summer, Andy Pettitte has been more problem than solution. The majority of his starts in June and July after coming off the DL were of the "5-6 IP, 4ish ER allowed" variety, and paired with the struggles of Hughes and CC helped hasten the team's fall in the playoff race. His 7-run disaster against the White Sox earlier this month may have been the low point of the season, but after last night's excellent start it's looking like it also could have been the turnaround point for him.
In his last 4 starts, Andy has allowed just 5 runs (2 earned) in 24.0 IP. That's come on 23 hits and only 1 home run, a refreshing change of pace from the continuous string of high-hit games in June and July and an indication that Andy is feeling better physically than he was then. His back has been an area of concern for the team all season, and it's limited his between-start work. With how he's looked on the mound his last few times out, maybe that strategy is finally starting to return some dividends. His K rate is back up after dipping below 10% in July, and his slash line for August is a very healthy 3.04/3.30.
Steps are still being taken to make sure Andy isn't overworked heading into September. Joe took him out after 86 pitches last night even though he was pitching a shutout, something that's not usually part of Joe's playbook but makes perfect sense when handling a 41-year-old. With Kuroda and Nova regressing in their recent outings, the Yankees really need a starter to step up and Andy's looked like that starter these last few weeks.