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Yankees rookie pitchers and their postseason debuts

BRONX, N.Y. — After the New York Yankees wrapped up a postseason spot, much of the discussion has turned to who the team should start in a potential Game 3 of the first-round Wild Card series. The simple answer, sweep, and don’t worry about it. Two starters vying for the ball are veteran southpaw J.A. Happ and rookie fireballer Deivi Garcia.

This got me to thinking, how have other Yankee rookies fared under the bright lights of October?

Below are some notable debuts:


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After finishing fourth in AL Rookie of the Year voting in 2011, Nova took the ball in Game 1 of the 2011 ALDS against the Detroit Tigers at Yankee Stadium. His start came in relief of CC Sabathia after the start of Game 1 was suspended due to rain. So, Nova picked it up in the third inning with the contest tied at one. Nova tossed 6.1 frames, fanned five, walked four, and allowed two runs on four hits. The rookie righty earned the win in a 9-3 victory.


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Yankee starters were dropping like flies in 2005 but the rookie Wang helped stabilize the rotation. Manager Joe Torre handed Wang the ball in Game 2 of the ALDS against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium. Wang was having a relatively smooth go of it the first time or so through the Halos order. Yet in the fifth frame, he yielded a home run to Juan Rivera. Wang’s defense didn’t do him any favors in the sixth or seventh. One run came around to score in the sixth and two runs following a throwing error by Wang off a bunt in the seventh were plated as well. Going 6.2 frames, Wang scattered six hits, yielded four runs (one earned), walked zero, and struck out one, as the Yankees fell 5-3.


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El Duque was a game-changer in 1998 and would save the Yanks bacon during the ALCS. With the Yankees trailing the Cleveland Indians 2-1, El Duque was nails in Game 4 at Cleveland. Hernandez stymied the Tribe bats, tossing seven strong scoreless frames, fanning six, scattering three hits while walking two. Hernandez and the bullpen made a first-inning home run by Paul O’Neill stand up as the Yankees won 4-0.


Game 2 of the 1995 ALDS was remembered for so many other happenings. Especially Jorge Posada’s pinch-running debut! Yet it also marked the postseason debuts of Pettitte and Rivera. Pettitte, who finished third in AL Rookie of the Year voting, toed the slab at Yankee Stadium. Pettitte toiled seven innings of this seesaw affair, scattering nine hits, allowing four runs and three walks with a pair of pickoffs. After all of the home run heroics of Ruben Sierra, Don Mattingly, and O’Neill, Rivera entered with two outs in the twelfth to strike out Jay Buhner. Rivera worked a scoreless thirteenth, fanned the side in the fourteenth, and added another K in a scoreless fifteenth, enabling him to record the victory after Jim Leyritz homered in the home half of the fifteenth.


Rags won the AL Rookie of the Year award in 1981. The strike-shortened season saw the Yankees play the Milwaukee Brewers in the ALDS. Righetti earned the Game 2 start at Milwaukee County Stadium. Rags fired away with 10 K’s across six scoreless frames, scattering four hits while walking two. Rags picked up the victory as the Yankees blanked the Brewers 3-0.

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The rookie Stottlemyre helped bolster an aging Yankee roster to the 1964 AL Pennant. Stottlemyre earned the start in Game 2 of the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. Buoyed by eight runs, Stottlemyre tossed a complete game, fanning four, scattering seven hits, walking two, and allowing three runs. Pretty good stuff when you’re locking horns with Bob Gibson.


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After a stellar regular season with a 2.56 ERA, Downing got the nod in Game 2 of the 1963 World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, a 4-1 loss at Yankee Stadium. Downing, who didn’t get much support, went five frames, yielded three runs on seven hits and one walk while fanning six.


After finishing second in AL Rookie of the Year voting, Ford earned the Game 4 start in the 1950 World Series at Yankee Stadium. Facing the Philadelphia Phillies, Ford worked 8.2 frames, whiffed seven, scattered seven hits, walked one, and allowed two unearned runs in the ninth. Ford would earn the victory in the series clincher.

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Shea was an All-Star and finished third in AL Rookie of the Year voting in 1947. The rookie also got the nod in Game 1 of the World Series against the Brooklyn Dodgers at Yankee Stadium. Shea toiled five frames, fanned three, walked two, allowed two hits and one run. Shea and the Yankees won 5-3. Shea also earned the victory in Game 4 at Brooklyn.

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Moore made his debut in relief of Waite Hoyt in the 1927 Fall Classic tossing 1.2 scoreless frames in relief in a 5-4 Game 1 victory against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh. Moore would earn a victory in the Game 4 clincher.

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In Game 2 of the 1927 World Series, Pipgras tossed a complete-game victory, fanning two, scattering seven hits, allowing one walk and two runs in the 6-2 win over the Pirates.

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