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ALCS Preview: Angels vs. Yankees

Oct 14, 2009, 5:19 PM EDT

After convincing sweeps in Divisional Series play, the Angels and Yankees will meet in the ALCS. It’ll be the third postseason series in eight years for the teams. They never played in the first 31 years of the Angels’ existence, but they met in the ALDS in 2002 and 2005, with the Angels winning both series. In 2002, it was a high-scoring series in which the losing team plated at least five runs in all four games. The Angels lost Game 1, then rallied to win three straight, with Troy Glaus hitting three homers in the process.
The 2005 ALDS was remarkably close, with four of the five games being decided by one or two runs. Bengie Molina and Garret Anderson starred in that one, with the former hitting three homers and the latter driving in seven runs.
This is set to be the first seven-game series for the two teams, and MLB has seemingly given the Yankees a nice advantage by spreading the series over 10 days, rather than the traditional nine. That means the teams can go with three starters throughout, with just one pitcher ever starting on short rest.
2009 ALCS Probables
Game 1: John Lackey vs. CC Sabathia
Game 2: Joe Saunders vs. A.J. Burnett
Game 3: Andy Pettitte vs. Jered Weaver
Game 4: CC Sabathia vs. Scott Kazmir
Game 5: A.J. Burnett vs. John Lackey
Game 6: Joe Saunders vs. Andy Pettitte
Game 7: Jered Weaver vs. CC Sabathia
Of course, that’s all tentative. But with ridiculously unnecessary extra day off, a pitcher can starts Games 2 and 5, Games 3 and 6 and Games 4 and 7 on normal rest. Sabathia will be going on short rest in Game 4, but he does have experience doing so.
The Angels probably wouldn’t receive the same advantage by bring Lackey back on short rest, so they’ll go with four starters. Unlike the Yankees, they’ve officially announced their starters through Game 4 as of this writing. It’s entirely possible that they’ll make a change and go with Kazmir in Game 7 if he outpitches Weaver. The Angels pushed Weaver back from Game 2 to Game 3 largely because of his excellent record at home. Game 7, though, will be back in Yankee Stadium and Kazmir would be able to start that one on normal rest.
Even with the heavy dose of CC, the rotation edge likely goes to the Angels. All of that Sabathia may not go as far as the Yankees are hoping anyway. The big left-hander lost both of his starts against the Angels this year, amassing a 6.08 ERA in the process. He’s 5-7 with a 4.72 ERA lifetime against them. Pettitte went 0-2 with a 7.88 ERA in three starts this year. Only Burnett was solid, going 1-0 with a 4.26 ERA.
Of course, the Angels starters don’t have very good ERAs against the Yankees either. The exception is Kazmir, who went 2-1 with a 3.20 ERA versus the Bombers this season. He’s 6-5 with a 2.67 ERA lifetime. It’s one more good reason to think he’ll be the Game 7 starter if it gets that far.
The offenses
It’s a matchup of the AL’s top two offenses. The Yankees led the majors in runs, homers, OBP and slugging, while the Angels came in second in runs and first in average.
New Yankee Stadium did play a role in the power numbers, but not as large was one might expect. The Yankees still outhomered the Angels 108-83 in road games and outslugged them .466-.434. The two teams hit for the same .283 average on the road.
The Angels had to be as excited to see Vladimir Guerrero come up big in the ALDS as the Yankees were with Alex Rodriguez. Still, Chone Figgins’ extreme lack of production is a concern. He went 0-for-12 with six strikeouts against the Red Sox, leaving him at .182/.214/.273 in 99 at-bats over nine career postseason series.
Howie Kendrick will be another big factor in the series. He’s hit .427 with an 11/12 K/BB ratio in 108 career at-bats against the Yankees. As the starting second baseman against left-handers, he’s due to play in five of the seven games. However, he’s been flat-out brutal in the postseason, all against the Red Sox. In three series, he’s gone 5-for-32 with no extra-base hits and a 10/0 K/BB ratio. That’s a 308 OPS. If he gets off to a poor start, he’ll probably find himself on the bench in favor of Maicer Izturis.
The Yankees weren’t exactly an offensive juggernaut versus the Twins. In fact, they were outhit 29-23 in the series, with the difference being that they outhomered the Twins 6-0 while scoring 15 runs between the three games. The important thing was that A-Rod got his groove on, going 5-for-11 with two homers. The Angels figure to try a different strategy against him than that of the Twins, who mostly opted to throw him fastballs over the heart of the plate.
Numbers
Season series tied 5-5
Angels outscored Yankees 65-55
Runs per game
Angels: 5.45
Yankees: 5.65
Runs allowed per game
Angels: 4.70
Yankees: 4.65
Bullpen ERA:
Angels: 4.49
Yankees: 3.91
Defensive efficiency
Angels: 17th in MLB
Yankees: 13th in MLB
Overrated angle
Jose Molina’s presence as the starting catcher for A.J. Burnett
As has been widely discussed, Burnett and Jorge Posada just don’t work very well together, and the Yankees opted to go with Molina as the catcher for Burnett in Game 2 of the ALDS. The pairing will be used again in the ALCS, but it shouldn’t play a huge role. Since the Yankees will keep carrying a third catcher in Francisco Cervelli, they won’t hesitate to have Posada replace Molina as soon as Burnett leaves his two starts.
The over/under for plate appearances for Molina in the ALCS is four. If he hits more than twice in either of his starts, it should mean that the Yankees have scored a bunch of runs or Burnett is working deep into the contest. He came up just once in his start against the Twins.
Underrated angle
The off day advantage for the Yankees.
The Yankees have the best starter. They have the best closer. They have the best setup man. And now they get to use all of them more than they might otherwise because MLB guaranteed itself a little extra revenue by sneaking in an extra off day between Games 4 and 5.
Prediction
Yankees in 6
The Angels should be able to claim a game in New York early with the seemingly even pitching matchups, but I can’t help but think they’ll need both if they’re going to pull off the upset. Weaver’s arsenal isn’t particularly well suited to keeping the Yankees in check, and the Yankees should have as much success against the Angels pen as they did versus Minnesota’s.
The Angels will probably need both Darren Oliver and Brian Fuentes to come up big if they’re going to have a chance. The pair threw four scoreless innings against the Red Sox, allowing just one hit in the process. However, the Yankees figure to put up better fights versus both and steal at least one game against them.

  1. Halo Fan - Oct 14, 2009 at 6:50 PM

    Angels in 6.

  2. y - Oct 14, 2009 at 6:53 PM

    ok. color me silly but I hope that it snows something fierce with windchills in the nagatories to get the MLB to realize that they NEED TO try and shorten the playoffs. It is really ridiculous.

  3. yankee boy - Oct 14, 2009 at 8:22 PM

    Yeah Right angels in 6 more like sixty

  4. coldharbor - Oct 14, 2009 at 10:11 PM

    Let me guess- you picked the Red Sox to beat the Angels as well.

  5. yankees suck - Oct 15, 2009 at 5:34 AM

    Yankees are good..but the angels are a team of destiny. Angels beat down the red sox. They’ll get by the yankees in 5. A-rod hitting good was luck. the angels have a better pitching staff and have spent less than the over payed yankees. Jeter and Texeira are the only ones that are worth the money. Just another…HALO victory!!

  6. mg - Oct 15, 2009 at 9:46 AM

    color me simple… but how about previewing the series that starts tonight first?

  7. comeonman - Oct 15, 2009 at 10:48 AM

    It would be better to shorten the season to 154 games I think the playoff format can stay as is, just cut out the off days when already in the city such as, no off day when games 4,5 and six will be played in LA, no off day between 6 and 7 in NY.The Players would have to give up some salary and the Owners would have to give up additional money at the gates, it won’t happen.
    Buh bye

  8. comeonman - Oct 15, 2009 at 10:51 AM

    YANKEES IN SEVEN ……….. ANGELS ARE A GOOD TEAM, HAVE A GOOD MANAGER, PROBABLY THE BEST IN THE LEAGUE, SMART PLAYERS.GREAT MATCH UP.I THINK HOME FIELD WILL BE THE DECIDING FACTOR.ANGELS OWN THE YANKEES BUT THIS YEAR LQQKS LIKE A YANKEE YEAR.
    THIS WILL PRODUCE THE SERIES WINNER………
    YANKEES/ DODGERS, MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN……….

  9. marlboroman - Oct 15, 2009 at 10:54 AM

    hey skippy, realx over there in Montana.

  10. jnintemann - Oct 15, 2009 at 11:49 AM

    yankees in 6
    this looks like its going to be their year with everyone coming together and a-rod and sabathia playing well this postseason. i don’t think anyone can beat them this year.

  11. Angry Former New Yorker - Oct 15, 2009 at 11:51 AM

    Stinkees going down in flames! A-Roids is a loser and will always be one. Angels in the outfield in 6 or 7.

  12. Angry Former New Yorker - Oct 15, 2009 at 1:39 PM

    Stinkees going down in flames! A-Roids is a loser and will always be one. Angels in the outfield in 6 or 7.

  13. Ben - Oct 15, 2009 at 8:42 PM

    Lots of cocky Angels fans on this board I see. The most dangerous thing is the fact that the Yankees’ big stars, Sabbathia, Arod and Tex are contributing. If that continues, the Yanks will win. Angels are a great team, I just don’t see them matching up favorably.

  14. RD - Oct 16, 2009 at 12:24 AM

    Yankees in five, angels are over rated, Yankees beat a hot team, Angels beat a cold Boston team, Yankees more power, and better pitching.

  15. Pato - Oct 16, 2009 at 4:13 PM

    Cue the Yankee haters! Oh yeah, they suck; only had the best record in the majors and won over 100 games, but they’re terrible!

  16. Michael Richter - Oct 16, 2009 at 4:23 PM

    If you think the Angels are going to win then you’re dumb. And your feet smell. And you’re Hitler.

  17. CanrcKid - Oct 16, 2009 at 5:47 PM

    Yankees in 5,
    Dodgers in 5,
    Torre and Dodgers beat Yankees in World series in 7

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