Angels-Yankees matchup: Starters

Angels-Yankees matchup: Starters

Heading into the American League Championship Series between the Angels and Yankees, beginning Friday at 7:57 p.m. ET on FOX, MLB.com looks at the position-by-position matchups and dissects which team has the advantage.

Angels
John Lackey, RHP (11-8, 3.83 ERA)
Joe Saunders, LHP (16-7, 4.60 ERA)
Jered Weaver, RHP (16-8, 3.75 ERA)
Scott Kazmir, LHP (10-9, 4.89 ERA)

Mike Scioscia announced his rotation for the American League Championship Series Wednesday.

Against the Red Sox in the AL Division Series, the Angels used John Lackey, Jered Weaver and Scott Kazmir.

In the ALCS, Lackey will once again get the Game 1 start. The right-hander gained a reputation for being a big-game pitcher when he won Game 7 of the 2002 World Series against the Giants.

Lackey started the season on the disabled list with a strained right forearm, but he showed no ill effects from the injury when he was activated in mid-May. Lackey was 11-8 with a 3.83 ERA in 27 starts and allowed three earned runs or fewer in 11 of his last 15 starts.

The Angels will hope for a performance similar to the one he had against the Red Sox in Game 1 of the ALDS, when he tossed 7 1/3 scoreless innings. Lackey faced CC Sabathia once this year and walked away with a win in that July 12 matchup, having allowed two runs over seven innings.

Scioscia will go to Joe Saunders in Game 2. The southpaw would have started a Game 4 against Boston had there been one. Saunders was the club's Opening Day starter and tied for the club lead in wins, going 16-7 with a 4.60 ERA.

Weaver, who started Game 2 of the ALDS, gets the nod for Game 3. Weaver pitches well at Angel Stadium, where he was 9-3 with a 2.90 ERA this year as opposed to 7-5 with a 4.78 ERA on the road.

And in Game 4, Scott Kazmir will be their guy. The left-hander was acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays on Aug. 28 and posted a 2-2 mark with a 1.73 ERA in six starts for the Angels.

Kazmir made five starts for the Rays in the 2008 postseason and compiled a 4.21 ERA, but he scuffled a bit in his Game 3 start against the Red Sox last week, when he allowed five runs on five hits over six innings.

Yankees
CC Sabathia, LHP (19-8, 3.37 ERA)
A.J. Burnett, RHP (13-9, 4.04 ERA)
Andy Pettitte, LHP (14-8, 4.16 ERA)
Joba Chamberlain, RHP (9-6, 4.75 ERA)
Chad Gaudin, RHP (2-0, 3.43 ERA)

The Yankees invested heavily in Sabathia (seven years, $161 million) and Burnett (five years, $82.5 million) during the offseason, and the moves have paid dividends.

Sabathia nearly won 20 games for the first time in his career, and he was his usual workhorse self, throwing 230 innings. The 19 wins tied him with Felix Hernandez, Justin Verlander and Adam Wainwright for most in the Majors.

Sabathia exorcised whatever playoff demons he may have picked up in the 2007 ALCS with the Indians and the '08 NLDS with the Brewers in Game 1 of the ALDS, when he held the Twins to two runs over 6 2/3 innings. He did not walk a batter in that game while fanning eight.

Burnett, meanwhile, was 13-9 with a 4.04 ERA, and he was eighth in the AL with 195 strikeouts. The right-hander, who seems to be comfortable with Jose Molina behind the plate, got his first taste of the postseason in his 11-year career and did not show any nerves in allowing just one run over six innings.

The pair will pitch Games 1 and 2 for the Yankees as they did in the ALDS, with Andy Pettitte getting the nod in Game 3.

Pettitte matched his win total from last season with six fewer losses, and the Yankees were 21-11 in games he started.

No stranger to the postseason stage, Pettitte is tied with John Smoltz for the most career postseason wins with 15, and he is atop the record book for most innings pitched, as well as in starts. Big moments and hostile crowds do not bother Pettitte, which makes him the perfect person to start Game 3 at Angel Stadium.

One of the things Pettitte does particularly well is neutralize the opposition's running game, and that will be of utmost importance against an Angels lineup that was born to run. Pettitte ranks first in career pickoffs with 97 since they became an official stat in 1974, and he picked off six runners in 2009, including Torii Hunter on May 1.

Rather than come back with Joba Chamberlain or Chad Gaudin in Game 4, Yankees manager Joe Girardi will likely go with Sabathia on short rest. That would also allow him to bring his ace back for Game 7 on regular rest if needed.

Edge: Even

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.