I saw on ESPN.com that all eight of their baseball experts have picked the Yankees to win the ALCS. Maybe I’m nuts, but I think these teams are very even. In fact, I think there are several places where the Angels have an advantage.
1. C.C. Sabathia has never had much success against the Angels, going 5-7 with a 4.72 ERA. This year he was 0-2, yielding 17 hits, 9 ER in 13 1/3 innings.
2. Since 1996, no team has had more success against the Yankees than the Angels who have gone 79-66 over that span (including post-season)
3. The last two times these team met in the post-season, the Angels won both series.
4. If the Yankees do go with a three man rotation, that would mean the Angels would face five left handed starters in the series. (Sabathia three times, Pettitte twice) With Vlad Guerrero, Torii Hunter, Juan Rivera, and Mike Napoli, the Angels have as much right handed pop as any team in baseball. Napoli could be a unexpected key. Against lefties in ‘09, he hit .330 and slugged .607.
5. Angels manager Mike Scoscia has won the world series as a manager. Because of that, he will get a lot of leeway if his decisions don’t pan out. Joe Girardi, while having been manager of the year, has never filled out a LCS line-up card. His decision to lean towards a three man rotation shows guts, and in the typical American fashion no one has said much either way, but if the Yankee hurlers struggle on short rest, the critics will come out of the wood work.
Now, I’m not saying the Yankees can’t win. Of course they can. They have a ferocious line-up, the back of their bullpen is much, much stronger, and they have four of the seven in New York. But what if we wake up Saturday morning and find the Yanks down one game to none. It’s possible, right? Lackey’s good, and the Angels have proven Sabathia to be beatable. All the experts love the Bombers right now, but how quickly could that change?
I think it’s going to be a great series. In my opinion, these are the best two teams in baseball.