Earlier today, while offering his own ALCS predictions, Steve noted the following regarding the upcoming showdown between the Yankees and the Angels:
I think this series comes down to a battle of the bullpens, and the Yanks win that handily.
Steve is right on with his assessment. If the Yankees can maneuver through the likes of John Lackey, Jared Weaver, and Scott Kazmir (and possibly Joe Saunders), then they’ll face an LA bullpen that has been exposed as a team weakness throughout the regular season.
In ‘09, the Angel bullpen has sported a 4.27 FIP, which is actually better than the Yankees’ mark of 4.33. However, looking beyond FIP, there are some flaws nesting within the Angel ‘pen. For instance, while the Yankees’ relief corps has walked 3.46 batters per nine innings — the second lowest BB/9 in the AL — LA’s relievers have walked 3.85 per nine, the 5th highest in the league. In addition, the Angels’ bullpen has put up relatively weak strikeout numbers when compared to the rest of the AL. With a K/9 of 7.41 — the 6th lowest in the league — the Angel bullpen isn’t as imposing when compared to previous years (the Yankees 8.44 K/9 is the best in the AL).
Essentially, the Yankees won’t be facing Scot Shields, Kelvim Escobar, and K-Rod this ALCS. That was a pretty tough group. Instead, they’ll have to deal with Bulger, Palmer and Fuentes, which could end up being a good thing.
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