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Wednesday, October 13, 2010
On the Pettitte/Hughes decision


Here's some of the statistical history related to the Yankees debate regarding whether to start Andy Pettitte or Phil Hughes in Texas on Saturday afternoon.

Pettitte has an 8.22 ERA in seven career starts at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, sixth-worst among active pitchers. Admittedly, that's a little misleading, skewed by three starts from 1995 to 1997 in which Pettitte posted a 16.05 ERA. Pettitte followed that with three good starts there, before a hiccup in 2008 in which he allowed five runs in five innings.

Counter that against Pettitte's performance in 2010. He's 4-0 with a 2.56 ERA in nine road starts this season, and 7-0 with a 2.31 ERA in 11 afternoon starts (compared to a 4.31 ERA in night games).

Then, look at Hughes. Unlike Pettitte, Hughes has a great history at Rangers Ballpark. In 15 1/3 innings there, he's allowed three career hits. Remember, he had a no-hit bid in Texas thwarted by injury after 6 1/3 innings in 2007. He also pitched eight scoreless innings of three-hit ball there in a 2009 win.

Hughes also has had issues keeping the ball in the ballpark when he pitches in Yankee Stadium -- 20 home runs allowed there in 106 1/3 regular season innings, as opposed to five homers in 70 road innings. But Rangers Ballpark on a hot Saturday afternoon could be as homer-friendly as Yankee Stadium would be two nights later. Thus, some of the difficulty of the decision here.

One of these two is going to have to go up against Cliff Lee. Hughes lost to Lee on June 29 at Yankee Stadium while Lee was still a Mariner. Pettitte last faced Lee last May 29th, when Lee was still with the Indians. Pettitte beat him that day, but Lee's October track record could make him a tougher match this time around.