The rookie, called up from Triple-A Durham on Sept. 12 and making only his second major league start, looked like an ace in pitching seven innings of two-hit ball in Game 1 of the 2011 ALDS as the improbable Tampa Bay Rays opened with a 9-0 victory over the defending AL champion Texas Rangers. See which other rookie pitchers were called into postseason action ...
Kerry Wood, 1998 Cubs
Kerry Wood debuted with the Cubs on April 12, 1998. The team earned a wild-card berth that year, but were swept by the Braves. Wood was the losing pitcher in Game 3. Wood missed the '99 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery and struggled in 2000. He returned to form in 2001. Wood earned two wins in the 2003 Divisional Series against the Atlanta Braves and was the starter in Game 3 of the 2003 National League Championship Series, which the Cubs won in extra innings. He was traded to the Indians in 2009 and was traded to the Yankees on July 31, 2010, before returning to the Cubs in December 2010.
Sandy Koufax, 1955 Dodgers
Koufax debuted with the Brooklyn Dodgers on June 24, 1955. He made only 12 appearances that season. The Dodgers went on to win the World Series in '55 but Koufax did not appear in the Series. He went on to a Hall of Fame career: seven-time All-Star, four-time World Series champ, three-time Cy Young winner, 1963 NL MVP, two-time World Series MVP, three-time Triple Crown winner. He pitched four no-hitters including a perfect game.
Don Sutton, 1966 Dodgers
Don Sutton came up with the Los Angeles Dodgers on April 14, 1966. The Dodgers won the NL pennant that season but were swept by the Orioles in the World Series. Sutton did not appear in the Series. He was named Rookie Pitcher of the Year on the strength of his 209 strikeouts. It began his string of 20 straight years with at least 100 strikeouts in his Hall of Fame career.
Fernando Valenzuela, 1981 Dodgers
Fernando Valenzuela was brought up by the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sept. 15, 1980. In his first full season (1981) the Dodgers won the World Series over the New York Yankees. Valenzuela won Game 3. He won the NL Cy Young and Rookie of the Year awards in 1981 as well. He is currently the Dodgers' Spanish language color commentator.
Hideo Nomo, 1995 Dodgers
Hideo Nomo was called up May 2, 1995, by the Los Angeles Dodgers, who went on to a Western Division title that season. He pitched Game 3 of the NLDS; the Dodgers were swept by the Reds. Nomo started the All-Star Game that season and won the Rookie of the Year award for the NL. He went on to play for the Mets, Brewers, Tigers and Red Sox, came back to the Dodgers then finished his career with the Rays and Royals. He retired in 2008.
Andy Pettitte, 1995 Yankees
Andy Pettitte was called up by the New York Yankees on April 29, 1995. The team gained a wild-card berth that season, the first time the wild-card format was used. Pettitte did not pitch in the series, which the Yankees lost to the Mariners 3-2. Pettite was traded to the Houston Astros in 2004 and returned to the Yankees in 2007, where he remained until his retirement in 2010. A three-time All-Star and five-time World Series champ, he won the 2001 ALCS MVP award and has a record six postseason series-clinching wins and a record 18 postseason wins.
Livan Hernandez, 1997 Marlins
Livan Hernandez was called up Sept. 24, 1996, by the Florida Marlins. In 1997, his first full season, the Marlins won the World Series. Hernandez pitched four innings in relief in Game 2 of the NLDS vs. the Giants, allowing three hits and one run. He won Games 3 and 5 of the NLCS vs. the Braves, setting a record for most strikeouts in a NLCS with 15. He was voted NLCS MVP. He started and won Games 1 and 5 of the World Series vs. the Cleveland Indians and won the World Series MVP trophy. He currently pitches for the Washington Nationals.
Francisco Rodriguez, 2002 Angels
Francisco Rodriguez (K-Rod) was called up on Sept. 18, 2002, by the Anaheim Angels, the same year the team went on to win the World Series. As a reliever, K-Rod had two victories in the ALDS against the Yankees and went 2-0 vs. the Twins in the ALCS (with seven strikeouts in 4 1/3 innings). In the World Series against the Giants, he had a 1-1 record with 13 strikeouts in 8 2/3 innings. At 20 years old, he became the youngest ever to win a World Series game. As a Met 2009, he was placed on the team's disqualified list after it was learned he suffered a torn ligament in his right thumb during an altercation with his girlfriend's father. K-Rod now pitches for the Milwaukee Brewers.
Dontrelle Willis, 2003 Marlins
Dontrelle Willis came up May 9, 2003, with the Florida Marlins. The team won the World Series that year. In the NLDS he pitched in relief (5.2 IP, 5 runs, 7.94 ERA). In the NLCS vs. the Cubs, he started Game 4 and relieved in Game 6 (3.1 IP, 7 runs, 18.90 ERA). In the World Series vs. the Yankees, he appeared in relief in Games 1, 3 and 5 (3.2 IP, 0 runs). Willis was named NL Rookie of the Year. In 2008, Willis was traded to Detroit, where he struggled with his command. On May 30, 2010, Willis was designated for assignment by the Tigers. On June 1, Willis was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks. On July 4, Willis was designated for assignment and subsequently released. Willis continued to bounce around the league, and is now with the Reds' organization.
David Price, 2008 Rays
David Price was brought up by the Tampa Bay Rays on Sept. 14, 2008. The team won the AL pennant that year. He was the winning pitcher in Game 2 of the 2008 ALCS vs. the Red Sox, earning a postseason victory before ever winning a regular-season game. He recorded the final four outs in Game 7 of the 2008 ALCS, earning his first career save. Price pitched 2 1/3 innings in Game 2 of the 2008 World Series, giving up two earned runs but recording the save. He still pitches for the Rays.
Neftali Feliz, 2010 Rangers
He was slotted to be in the Rangers' rotation in 2010, but once he started closing games instead, they couldn't move him from there. Feliz put up 40 saves his rookie season, then proceeded to mow guys down in the postseason as a key member of the Rangers' first-ever World Series team, becoming the second-youngest player (22 years old) to ever record a save in the Series in Game 3.
Madison Bumgarner, 2010 Giants
Madison Bumgarner got the nod in Game 4 of the 2010 NLDS vs. the Braves, going 6 innings, giving up 2 runs on 6 hits and leaving the game with a one-run lead to become the youngest player in franchise history to record a playoff win. He was also stellar in his first World Series appearance, pitching 8 innings of shutout ball over the Rangers in a Game 4 win, giving his team a commanding 3-1 series advantage.
Ivan Nova, 2011 Yankees
While Ivan Nova technically wasn't the Game 1 starter for New York's ALDS matchup against the Tigers, he wound up getting the Game 1 victory. After rain suspended the game after just 1-1/2 innings, Nova came in the next day in relief of CC Sabathia and dazzled. He allowed two runs on four hits and struck out five in 6-1/3 innings of work. He got the start in Game 5 to try to keep the Yankees' postseason hopes alive but was pulled after two innings with a tight right forearm. He had given up back-to-back solo homers in the first inning and took the loss as New York was eliminated.