Fortunately, I have my hoodie and an internet connection so I can present my unbiased picks for the American and National League Championship Series. Remember, I'm picking the best teams, not the teams I want to defeat the Yankees and the Phillies.
American League Championship Series
Yankees vs. Angels
If there's one team who has had the Yankees' number over the years, it's the Los Angeles Angels of Wallyworld. Since Derek Jeter's rookie season in 1996, the Angels are 73-63 against the Yankees. That's the best record compiled by any team against the Bronx Bummers. In that time, the Angels have also defeated the Yankees twice in the postseason.
Joe Girardi has stated that the Yankees will be using a three-man rotation in the series. That means Subway spokeseater CC Sabathia could potentially make three starts if the series goes seven games. How did C(onstantly) C(hewing) Sabathia do against the Disney team in 2009?
- May 2: 6.2 IP, 4 ER, 8 hits, 1 BB
- July 12: 6.2 IP, 5 ER, 9 hits, 3 BB
That adds up to a 6.08 ERA and a 1.58 WHIP. It also adds up to two losses. The only other team Sabathia lost to twice in 2009 was Tampa Bay, although his second loss to the Rays was in his last start after the Yankees had already clinched the division title.
If CC continues to pitch against the Angels as he did in the regular season, home field advantage will mean nothing in this series.
Prediction: Angels in 6. The Yankees may have won the Mark Teixeira and CC Sabathia sweepstakes from the Angels, but that won't put them in the Fall Classic. Joe Girardi's success is due to the players he inherited. Mike Scioscia's success is due to his superior managerial skills. The Angels will win their second pennant and Aunt Coop will be quite happy!
National League Championship Series
Phillies vs. Dodgers
This is the fifth NLCS matchup between the Phightin' Phils and the Better Team. The Dodgers won the first two matchups in 1977 and 1978, while the Phillies won the last two in 1983 and 2008. Last year, the Phillies defeated the Dodgers in five games, but the Dodgers barely made it to the postseason, winning 84 regular season games. This year, Los Angeles finished with the best record in the National League and have been on a mission since the season started.
The Phillies lost four of the seven regular season matchups against the Dodgers. Three of the four losses were credited to the bullpen (Chad Durbin lost twice and Brad Lidge lost once).
Philadelphia won the last two games of the NLDS against the Rockies in the ninth inning. The Dodgers have Ronald Belisario (4-3, 2.04 ERA), Ramon Troncoso (5-4, 2.72 ERA) and closer Jonathan Broxton (7-2, 2.61 ERA). If the Phillies want to win this series, they'd better have a big lead early in the game. Games that go down to the last at-bat are determined by the bullpens and the Dodgers' bullpen is superior to the Phillies' pen.
Prediction: Dodgers in 6. Fred Wilpon has already been looking for a spot on the left field wall at Citi Field to put up a Dodgers' 2009 World Championship banner. The Dodgers will continue to give him hope for his banner after dispatching the Phillies.
That means we'll be having a Freeway Series this year between the Angels and the Dodgers. That's fine with me. A Yankees-Phillies matchup wouldn't have been as attractive to my unbiased self.
See you next week when I get back on my soapbox to give you my World Series predictions, assuming I can get out of this Winter Wonderland in one piece!