New York Yankees: Andy Pettitte Looking Like a Different Pitcher in 2012

Mike Moraitis@@michaelmoraitisAnalyst IJune 5, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 05:  Andy Pettitte #46 of the New York Yankees delivers a pitch in the first-inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium on June 5, 2012 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Mike Stobe/Getty Images

If you haven't noticed lately, Andy Pettitte is becoming a strikeout pitcher for the New York Yankees. That's strange because on the cusp of turning 40, it's the first time in the Yankee legend's career he's been known for such a distinction.

Sure it's a small sample size for the 2012 season, but Pettitte has been fanning batters ever since he returned to the mound in Yankee pinstripes. His latest dominant start against the Tampa Bay Rays saw Pettitte record 10 strikeouts in 7.1 innings pitched.

In five starts, Pettitte has notched 32 strikeouts, having totaled eight, nine and 10 big whiffs in three of those five outings.

Another thing that's been noticeable has been the amount of innings Pettitte has been logging thus far. He wasn't exactly known for going deep in games in 2010, so it's surprising to see Pettitte doing the exact opposite after taking a year off and returning in 2012.

Pettitte has gone six innings or more in each of his starts and has gone seven or more in his last four starts. There's no doubt the more innings aid Pettitte's strikeout total as a result of the extra time he's spending on the bump.

But the best thing about Pettitte's pitching these days is his control. He's always had good control, but the veteran left-hander has taken it to a new extreme this season.

Not only has Pettitte had great control, but he's also enjoyed throwing first-pitch strikes.

There's nothing better for a pitcher than getting ahead of hitter's on a regular basis during any given start, and Pettitte has certainly done a great job of getting opposing hitters out of their comfort zones and in a better position to be struck out.

With a long way to go until the 2012 season is in the books, it's doubtful Pettitte will be able to keep up this pace, but at least at this very moment, Pettitte is looking like a different pitcher than he has in the past.