Joba 'in the mix' for playoff bullpen role

Updated: October 4, 2009, 2:14 PM ET
Associated Press

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- New York Yankees pitcher Joba Chamberlain is scheduled to work in relief Sunday and appears headed to the bullpen for the first round of the playoffs.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Saturday that Chamberlain will pitch an inning or face a couple batters in the regular-season finale against Tampa Bay. Girardi said Chamberlain is "in the mix" for a bullpen spot for the opening round.

"I think it can give you a better idea of what you're going to get," Girardi said. "We'd use him as we saw fit. From day to day it could change."

Chamberlain went 9-6 with a 4.78 ERA in 31 starts. His workload was limited and he wound pitching in 156 1-3 innings.

The right-hander made his major league-debut in 2007 as the setup man for closer Mariano Rivera, posting an 0.38 ERA over 19 games. Chamberlain started last season in the bullpen before joining the rotation on June 3.

"It's not something new, so I have plan on what I need to do to get ready because I've done it before," Chamberlain said. "That's the advantage that I have. Just come to the ballpark, have the idea you're probably going to pitch in a game and go from there."

When asked if Sunday might be an audition for the postseason, Chamberlain said, "There's always somebody wanting to take your job, and that's the great part of this team, we push each other so much."

"That's something I look forward to," he said.

The Yankees will likely need just three starters for the divisional series. CC Sabathia will start the opener for the AL East champions. Andy Pettitte and A.J. Burnett will pitch the next two games, although it hasn't been determined in which order.

Girardi said the first-round opponent will be one factor in the Game 2 and 3 starter. The earliest the team will find its opposition will be Sunday because Detroit and Minnesota, one of which will face the Yankees, remain in a tight race for the AL Central championship.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press