John Lackey will start Friday night's Game 1 of the AL championship series against CC Sabathia and the Yankees, getting the nod from manager Mike Scioscia before the Angels traveled to New York on Thursday.
Lackey pitched seven innings to lead Los Angeles to a 5-0 win over the Boston Red Sox in Game 1 of the division series. The right-hander is 3-3 with a 3.02 ERA in 12 career postseason games, 10 starts.
"It's a fun atmosphere, for sure," Lackey said. "It's the same as the last round. It helps to win the first game, but the importance is probably a little bit less in a seven-game series, especially being on the road."
Lackey was 11-8 with a 3.83 ERA after missing the first 33 games because of a forearm strain. He got Los Angeles off to a great start in the first round of the playoffs, allowing just four singles against Boston.
"When John is on that mound, he competes as well as anybody I've seen," Scioscia said of the eight-year veteran, who won Game 7 of the 2002 World Series as a rookie.
Lackey was 3-3 with a 3.76 ERA at the old Yankee Stadium and has yet to pitch in the new park - which is much more conducive to home runs. The right-hander gave up 23 in his 32 starts this season.
"You can't just focus on one guy in that lineup because they're too deep," Lackey said. "Hopefully you keep guys off base in front of him and limit the damage."
Scioscia revealed his fourman rotation following a morning workout at Angel Stadium that preceded the team's flight to New York.
Left-hander Joe Saunders will start Game 2 against A.J. Burnett on Saturday. Jered Weaver, the Angels' Game 2 pitcher in their sweep of the Red Sox, will face Andy Pettitte when the series shifts to Anaheim on Monday for Game 3.
Saunders will be making his second postseason start. He allowed four runs over five innings in the Angels' 5-4 victory at Boston in Game 3 of last year's division series.
Scott Kazmir, acquired August 28 from Tampa Bay, will start Game 4 in Anaheim - most likely against Sabathia.
New York manager Joe Girardi announced Tuesday he was leaning toward a three-man rotation, and weather could be a factor in his decision.
"I'm hearing a lot of rain. We may face Sabathia seven times," Scioscia joked. "We might play just one game a week."