Angels-Yankees matchup: Bench

Angels-Yankees matchup: Bench

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


The Angels have the luxury of a bench that includes players who could fill everyday roles. Manager Mike Scioscia has plenty of options behind a strong starting nine for the ALCS.

At second base, Scioscia is able to alternate his lineup based on matchups for a particular game.

Against left-handed pitching, the Angels tend to turn to the right-handed-hitting second baseman Howard Kendrick, who hit .291 with 10 home runs and 61 RBIs in 2009. When a righty is on the hill, Scioscia can rely on the switch-hitting Maicer Izturis, who hit .300 with eight homers, 65 RBIs and 13 stolen bases this season.

Behind the plate, Mike Napoli garners the bulk of the playing time, and he started two games against the Red Sox in the Angels' three-game sweep of Boston in the AL Division Series. In the regular season, Napoli appeared in 114 games, hitting .272 with 20 home runs and 56 RBIs. Backing up Napoli is catcher Jeff Mathis, who played in 84 games in 2009.

Scioscia tends to stick with an outfield of Juan Rivera in left, Torii Hunter in center and Bobby Abreu in right, with Vladimir Guerrero getting the bulk of the designated hitter duties.

On the bench, outfielders Gary Matthews, Reggie Willits and Robb Quinlan give the Angels sound in-game options. Matthews provides a good left-handed bat off the bench and solid defense. Willits boasts great speed for late-inning pinch-running situations. Quinlan was not used in the ALDS, but gives the Angels someone who can man multiple positions around the diamond.


Manager Joe Girardi goes with a pretty set everyday nine, so don't look for him to do a lot of tinkering with his lineup in the ALCS.

One defensive switch that Girardi likes to make late in close games is to move Melky Cabrera from center to left and put Brett Gardner, his best outfield defender, in center.

Gardner started 63 games in center this year and adds the speed dimension, stealing 26 bases in 31 attempts in 2009 after swiping 13 in 14 attempts in 2008.

There is also the catching question that will need to be answered. Jorge Posada will likely get the start in games not started by A.J. Burnett, but that does not mean that he won't see action in those games. Girardi used Posada as a pinch-hitter for Jose Molina in the sixth inning of Game 2 of the ALDS, and left him in the game afterward.

With that in mind, it's likely the Yankees will carry Francisco Cervelli as a third catcher.

The Yankees also have the versatile Jerry Hairston Jr., who saw time for the Yankees this year at second, short and third in addition to all three outfield positions and brings some speed off the bench. That kind of versatility is one of the reasons the Yankees acquired him from the Reds just prior to the July 31 Trade Deadline.


Steve Gilbert and Jordan Bastian are reporters for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.