Pretty hard to believe it's been five years since the Yankees have gone to the ALCS but that's the fact: They haven't been there since that historic choke to the Red Sox in 2004. They open Friday night in the House that Jeter Built against the Angels in what should be a fascinating series. The Yanks have power at the plate and power on the mound, the Halos have speed on the bases and heavy hearts as they play for the memory of late pitcher Nick Adenhart. Manager Mike Scioscia won a World Series in 2002 and has been a playoff regular; Joe Girardi is in his first run as a postseason skipper.
I think the series comes down to two things: The Yankees' offense and Mariano Rivera. Both teams have quality starting pitching that bears some question marks. But the Yankees have too many big bats. And Los Angeles closer Brian Fuentes tends to put a lot of men on base, a dangerous way to work against the Yankees lineup. Rivera, on the other hand, is an ageless wonder still in shutdown mode. Look at all the closer blowups in the division series. He had nary a trouble spot. I think there's going to be at least one cream-pie rally off Fuentes. My pick is Yankees in six.
In the NLCS, the Dodgers were challenged only in Game Two by the slumping Cardinals so their rotation is set for their rematch with the Phillies. Joe Torre & Co. has revenge on its mind from last year's five-game defeat but I'm not expecting this one to go much better. Manny Ramirez has been relatively quiet with Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier the big bats to watch. The Phillies, meanwhile, have that amazing middle of the order and terrific starting pitching. The bullpen is certainly iffy but if Brad Lidge pitches as he did against the Rockies, it will feel like 2008 for him again and not the nightmare that's been most of '09. The rematch is a repeat. I'm going with the Phillies in five.
So I'm going with the Yankees and Phillies in an Amtrak series. Maybe you'll take the Angels and Dodgers in a Freeway Series. Make your selections below and feel free to chat up the LCS. I'll be in New York for all games at Yankee Stadium in this round so follow our coverage in the blog, online and in the print editions.
taggedALCS | Major leagues | NLCS | Yankees