The Yankees will welcome Pettitte back to their rotation on Tuesday to start against the Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium, marking the left-hander's first game action since he suffered a fractured left ankle in a June 27 start.
"That's what you come back for," Pettitte said. "Obviously it'd be nice to have a little bit of a bigger lead where you kind of take a breath. It'd be nice to know we were heading to the postseason right now and not have to worry about it, but I'm looking forward to being back and trying to help this club do what we want to do."
The news couldn't come at a better time for the Yankees, who have found themselves in a thrilling September race for the American League East. Pettitte estimates that he will be able to offer the Yankees about 60 to 65 pitches under game conditions.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that the team decided to slot Pettitte into the rotation after consulting with general manager Brian Cashman, head athletic trainer Steve Donohue and team physician Dr. Christopher Ahmad.
"We feel that he's ready to go," Girardi said. "Is he going to give you 90 pitches? No. Seventy is somewhat realistic, yes. He gets an extra day's rest here [on Monday]. We just feel we could have done another simulated game on Sunday and started him Friday, but this way he possibly has four starts for us."
The decision bumps David Phelps, who limited the Red Sox to one run over 5 2/3 innings on Wednesday, to a relief role. Girardi said that Phelps will throw a side session to prepare in case he is needed to relieve Pettitte on Tuesday.
Pettitte had lobbied for the start after throwing his most recent simulated game at Fenway Park on Wednesday, saying that he would be wasting quality pitches that could help the Yankees if he continues to throw under simulated conditions.
"When I spoke with them and let them know how I was feeling, that was the biggest thing," Pettitte said. "I could go do another [simulated] start, but I'd hate to. I feel like I can give y'all quality pitches.
"I think they all think that also; I think they're just worried about my health and worried about sending me out there too early. But I think everyone has been really pleased with my command during these simulated games, and I think that's why this is able to happen."