Oct 19, 2009, 1:08 PM EDT
In previewing the Yankees’ playoff pitching staff most of the focus was understandably on the CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, and Andy Pettitte three-man rotation and the Mariano Rivera, Phil Hughes, and Joba Chamberlain three-man bullpen.
Because of off days and matchups those six guys figured to do just about all the relevant pitching for New York in the postseason, but two extra-inning games and Joe Girardi’s quick hooks have caused the Yankees to also rely upon David Robertson and the 24-year-old right-hander has emerged as another outstanding late-inning option.
Robertson has made a pair of appearances in the playoffs so far, working out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the 11th inning of ALDS Game 2 and then pitching a scoreless 13th frame in ALCS Game 2. He picked up the victory in both outings, which as Joel Sherman of the New York Post notes isn’t exactly how things were supposed to go for a rookie who missed most of September with an elbow injury.
However, when healthy Robertson shutting down hitters shouldn’t come as a surprise. He had a 3.30 ERA, 63/23 K/BB ratio, and .216 opponents’ batting average in 43.2 innings during the regular season, posting the highest strikeout rate among all big-league pitchers with at least 40 innings. And in a 25-game stint with the Yankees last season he struck out 36 batters in 30.1 frames.
Robertson’s minor-league track record is impeccable, with a 1.30 ERA and 215 strikeouts versus just 85 hits allowed in 152.2 innings since the Yankees selected him in the 17th round of the 2006 draft from the University of Alabama. Robertson’s emergence this season not only gives the Yankees an extra late-inning option during the playoffs, it gives them the flexibility to make Chamberlain and/or Hughes full-time starters in 2010.
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