MLB.com has the pitching match ups for the upcoming Yanks-Angels ALCS, and has Joe Saunders listed as probable for Game 2, facing Yankee right hander AJ Burnett.
I’ll have to admit, this leaves me a bit perplexed. Angels manager Mike Scioscia has stated he wants to pitch a lefty at Yankee Stadium, to reduce the power threat the Yanks pose with hitters such as Teixeira, Swisher, Posada and Cabrera, all of whom have hit have hit the majority of their home runs from the left side. But the last time I checked, Scott Kazmir was left handed as well.
Joe Saunders is a nice, back of the rotation league average pitcher who had a career year last season and then reverted to the mean this year. One who hasn’t even pitched since Oct. 4 when he went five innings in Oakland. His career splits facing the Yanks are sub par, but it’s only 5 starts. Though he did pitch well against the Yanks in a late September start this year. Overall, Saunders has a 2-1 career record and 6.28 ERA against the Yankees and went 1-0 with a 4.72 ERA against them in two starts this season, both of them at home.
Scott Kazmir on the other hand, has pitched exceptionally well against the Yanks in his MLB career. He has a 2.67 earned run average in 15 starts against the Yankees, including a 2-1 mark and 3.20 ERA in three starts this year. The Angels traded for Kazmir on August 28th in large part due to his record facing the Yanks and Red Sox, both of whom they were likely to face in the playoffs. Kazmir didn’t deliver in the ALDS, giving up 5 runs in 6 innings of work and (notably) only striking out 1 batter facing a diminished Red Sox lineup this year.
With 4 full days off between the ALDS and ALCS for both teams, there’s no issue of rest between starts for any pitcher. There ‘s simply no reason I can come up with why you would start Joe Saunders over Scott Kazmir, unless he’s hurt. We have had some Angels fans checking in in recent days, if any of you can offer up an explanation I’d love to hear it.
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