After he joined the Yankees in May, the 40-year old left-hander made nine starts in his return from retirement, posting a 3-3 mark with a 3.22 ERA before he landed on the disabled list with a fractured left ankle in June. With the Yankees in the thick of the pennant race, Tuesday's return against Toronto certainly comes during crunch time, but the veteran said he's not feeling any pressure.
"I know what I expect out of myself," Pettitte said. "I expect to go out with however many starts I have -- and hopefully we get to the playoffs -- and I expect to give us good outings. If I don't, I'm going to be disappointed. You realize it may not be great, but I've been through enough. I don't feel pressure, I really don't."
Pettitte threw a simulated game at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday, and he will be limited to roughly 70 pitches against the Blue Jays. He said his main concern is fatigue, since his fractured ankle prevented him from conditioning for most of his stint on the DL.
"Obviously, I haven't faced anyone in a game situation other than a simulated game, but [pitching coach] Larry [Rothschild] and [bullpen coach Mike Harkey] and the hitters say that the ball's coming out good," Pettitte said. "It feels like it's coming out good, but we're going to find out Tuesday night. I'm hoping my velocity's decent.
"Obviously, I don't need a whole lot of velocity, I've proven that. I just need my command to be there."
Pettitte hasn't pitched since June 27, but his opponent, Ricky Romero, hasn't won since five days prior to that.
Romero, who hasn't won since June 22 in Miami, enters Tuesday's start with a 13-game losing streak that is tied for the worst skid in franchise history. Three of the 13 losses came against the Bronx Bombers.
In his most recent start on Wednesday, Romero allowed three runs over just four innings in a 3-2 loss to Seattle, allowing eight hits and issuing four free passes.
"I don't really know anymore," Romero said after that start. "It's been tough, but you just have to get ready for the next one."
Blue Jays: Auditions for next year
Toronto may be out of the running for a postseason berth, but that doesn't mean the final three weeks of the season aren't important.
In fact, for manager John Farrell, it's quite the opposite.
Farrell said that with a group of core players already in place, the team's remaining games will serve as an opportunity to judge talent for available spots next year.
"We communicate regularly on what is being evaluated," Farrell said. "That's shared individually and collectively as a team. Those aren't thrown to the wind because we're 15 or 18 games from the final day of the season. Evaluation continues to go on, and there's still competition here. Not everyone in that room is guaranteed a spot next year."
Yankees: Nunez's presence felt
Derek Jeter's injured left ankle paved the way for Eduardo Nunez to make some starts at shortstop, but it's been Nunez's production at the plate that could keep him in the lineup even after the Yankees captain returns.
Nunez started at shortstop against the Rays on Sunday for the fourth consecutive game, and manager Joe Girardi said he will consider using him as a designated hitter against left-handed hitters once Jeter returns.
Nunez's results in the Yankees' 6-4 victory demonstrated exactly the impact he's made. Nunez stole three bases, scored two runs and made some solid plays defensively.
"I was first excited he was back in the lineup," Alex Rodriguez said on Saturday. "Enormous, enormous ability, very high ceiling for us. You can see the way he handles at-bats, key at-bats. He can turn around on 100 miles per hour and handles offspeed very well, and that's a rare combination. He showed a lot with the way he played today, and it was a good step for him."
Tuesday will mark the start of Toronto's final road trip this season. The Blue Jays will play 10 games over nine days, all against AL East opponents.
Yankees center fielder Curtis Granderson's next home run will make him the first Yankees outfielder since Mickey Mantle to record consecutive 40-homer seasons.