So it looks like the Yankees are pretty well set for their rotation and with the Angels announcing their official ALCS rotation we can finally take a look at what each side is bring to the mound. Here are the first two match ups for this weekend.
Game 1 Match Up: CC Sabathia vs. John Lackey
We will start with Sabathia since he will be on the mound first. Everyone knows what the big lefty brings to the table; power fastball, hard slider, change up and an occasional curve. Sabathia did get roughed up by the Angels both times he pitched against them, but both of those starts came before the All-Star break when the big guy had yet to hit his stride with the Bombers in the second half. The Yankees are essentially putting their playoff existence in the hands of Sabathia by taking advantage of their off-days and using him three times if necessary during the ALCS. People like to judge Sabathia by his playoff record and to date he only has two quality playoff starts. The reality is that with his team's season on the line the man became an absolute beast with the Brewers and saved their season. The man can pitch when it counts.
Lackey is someone else who knows how to pitch when it counts. Lackey pitched well this year despite missing a month and a half due to injury. He has the guile to go into most stadiums and win in a hostile environment. Lackey pitched well against the Yankees the one time he faced them, outdueling CC in Anahiem during the first half finale. Lackey is the kind of pitcher that can always hurt the Yankees. He is fearless and he works with good command. The thing is he is hittable and the Yankees can get to him. This will easily be the best match up of the series.
Game 2 Match Up: A.J. Burnett vs. Joe Saunders
We all know what Burnett does. He is very predictable in that he can be unpredictable. Burnett could throw a no-hitter or he could give up seven runs, although I doubt Girardi is giving him that long of a leash in the ALCS. People are constantly worried about Burnett or who is catching him. Really I think his Game 2 performance will be what Burnett does this time around. He will walk a tightrope and give up a few runs, but I think he keeps the Yanks in the game.
Many would have criticized Mike Scoisia if he had let Jered Weaver start Game 2. Weaver isn't particularly good against the Yankees and he is particularly bad away from home. Joe Saunders is definitely a better choice than Weaver but he is not as good a choice as Scott Kazmir. Kazmir is someone who usually gives the Yankees all they can handle. Saunders had one bad start against New York and one good one after he returned from a stint on the DL. Things could go either way for him.
Each match up is close and could go either way. I think the Yankees get the edge in these first two only because of home field advantage. That last at bat will be huge, especially with the Yankees bullpen death. Each game should be close as Sabathia and Lackey probably trade zeros most of the way while Saunders and Burnett see who can put up fewer crooked numbers. I sure both games will take forever with the way the weather looks this weekend. Yet another reason the MLB's idiotic lack of flex scheduling kills the excitement of the playoffs.