American League Playoff Preview

Paul SalmanSenior Analyst IOctober 7, 2009

Now that the Twins have won their one game playoff against the Tigers, the American League match ups are set.

After being owned by the Red Sox since they won the World Series in 2002, The Angels found a way to get out of that slump this year and win the season series 5-3. They should feel confident that this is the year, on their fourth attempt since 2002, that they finally can knock the Red Sox out of the playoffs.

In terms of pitching, the Red Sox will have the advantage over most teams they face, and that includes the Angels. With John Lester, Josh Beckett, Clay Buchholz and the now healthy Dice K, the Sox staff looks to be poised for a post season run.

Facing the Angels, is a lot like facing the Yankees, who the Sox have struggled with in the second half. The Angels have a patient, powerful offense. That is the perfect formula to beat this Red Sox team.

The key question for the Red Sox is how will their bullpen and offense do in this series. Both have been inconsistent as of late. Their middle relief has not been as solid as it was last year and earlier this year, and Papelbon has not been as dominant this year, but has still found ways to get the job done.

The Angels staff is a lot like the Rockies staff. They do not have a true ace, but have several pitchers who they can rely on and all have the potential to be dominant. The addition of Scott Kazmir really allows the Angels to have a deep and experienced starting pitching staff.

John Lackey will start game one and he has shown that pitching against the Red Sox is not his strong point. He is 3-7 lifetime against the Sox with an ERA over 5.00.

Although they won the season series, and all signs point to them being able to finally get over the hump this year, playoff baseball is different than regular season baseball, and The Red Sox will find a way to win in 4. Their pitching staff has too much experience and has the mental edge over The Angels who know they have never beat The Sox in the playoffs.

Red Sox 3-1.

Minnesota Twins vs. New York Yankees
These are two teams that have taken two totally different roads to get to the playoffs. The Yankees have been resting for the last two weeks and pretty much have had the division locked up since August.
The Twins have won 17 of their last 21 and were four games out in mid-September and were three games out with four games to play but found a way to rally their way into the playoffs.
The Twins come in as the hottest team in baseball, while the Yankees come in as the best team in baseball and swept the season series against The Twins.
The Yankees have the best offense and one of the best bullpen's in the majors. The possible addition of Joba Chamberlain to the bullpen could make it even stronger.
The main question for the Yankees is how will their pitching hold up. CC Sabathia has a career playoff ERA of over 7.00, A.J. Burnett can be dominant at times, but has shown that he is inconsistent, and Andy Pettitte is 37 and not 100% healthy.
Starting pitching will be the main concern for the Yankees and will determine how far they go in the 2009 playoffs.
The Twins have shown that they are a team that you cannot count out at any point. The Yankees have the advantage in pretty much every aspect of the game, but The Twins have shown that they can overcome the odds.
The Twins have used up most of their best pitchers against Detroit on Tuesday night, including closer Joe Nathan for 1.2 innings. Coming into this series on less than 24 hours rest, and a depleted pitching staff will result in the Twins luck running out.
Yankees sweep 3-0.
Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees
These two have not met in the playoffs since the classic 2004 Yankees collapse in the ALCS. In fact, The Yankees have not won a playoff series since the 2004 playoffs.
The Yankees and Red Sox know each other very well from their 18 regular season meetings which they split. The Red Sox dominated the first half meetings and the Yankees dominated the second half meetings.
These teams are very evenly matched for the most part with a slight edge in starting pitching going to the Red Sox, as far as consistency and big game experience, and a slight edge in offense going to the Yankees.
The determining factor may come down to the bullpen's where the edge as of late goes to the Yankees. As mentioned earlier, the move of Phil Hughes to the bullpen has made The Yankees bullpen one of, if not the best in the majors.
Since 2004, The Red Sox have overcome "The Curse" and have gotten over stigma of not being able to beat The Yankees. The Red Sox have had the edge in these match-ups over the last few years, and have won two World Series Championships since that 2004 ALCS.
This year it is time for The Yankees to turn things back around and win this series.
Yankees 4-3 in a seven game classic.
American League Champions -
The New York Yankees