|First Round Playoff Preview - National League 2003||| Print |||Send|
Written by Dan Williams (Contact & Archive) on September 29, 2003
First Round Playoff Preview - National League
The Cubs have tremendous starting pitching with Prior, who is as good as any starter in baseball and the electric Wood. Zambrano has been dominant at times this year and Clement has had his moments as well. The Braves do not have a true ace but do go a solid 3 deep in Ortiz, Maddux and Hampton. The Braves have the great offense led by Gary Sheffield, 1.023 OPS, Chipper Jones, .920 OPS, Andruw Jones, .851 OPS, Javy Lopez, 1.065 OPS, Marcus Giles, .917 OPS, and Rafael Furcal, .794 OPS. The Cubs are still led offensively by Sammy Sosa, .911 OPS, who has had his production slip from his norm this year. Their other significant hitters are Moises Alou, .819 OPS and Aramis Ramirez, .788 OPS, who was stolen from the Pirates. The Braves have a solid bullpen with the dominating John Smoltz back from the elbow twinge and the solid Will Cunnane and Kent Mercker setting up. The Cubs have a strong bullpen as well with the surprising Joe Borowski closing and the flame throwing Kyle Farnsworth & veteran Mike Remlinger setting up. I love the Cubs' starting pitching in this series and think Mark Prior will have his rising star shown brightly in this years’ playoffs.
What a story the Marlins are. Jack McKeon has to be the manager of the year. This team was left for dead when Jeff Torborg was fired. The Marlins have a solid rotation with Josh Beckett starting to live up to the high billings he has received in the past. Dontrelle Willis has pitched better of late after a swoon followed his amazing rookie run. The Giants are even better in the rotation than the Marlins with Cy Young candidate Schmidt and mid-season acquisition Sidney Ponson. Jerome Williams has had quite a surprising rookie impact. Then the Giants have the difference maker in Barry Bonds with his ridiculous 1.278 OPS. No hitter changes the dynamics of a game more than Bonds. However the Giants have no other significant offensive hitters. So Bonds will see a lot of walks and his teammates will have to capitalize. Mike Lowell, .881 OPS who is coming back from a broken hand leads the Marlins. The Marlins other top offensive players are Pudge Rodriguez, .843 OPS, Miguel Cabrera, .793 OPS, and Derrek Lee, .888 OPS. The Marlins have dumped Braden Looper as closer and have finally turned it over to Ugueth Urbina who is solid, but not spectacular. Chad Fox has emerged in set up and the Marlins need Looper to settle in to a set up role now. The Giants might have the most underrated bullpen in baseball led by closer Tim Worrell and a deep set up crew of Felix Rodriguez, Joe Nathan, Matt Herges and Scott Eyre. I like the Giants starting pitching & bullpen and of course Bonds.