Posted: Tuesday October 05, 1999 04:20 PM
By Stephen Cannella, Sports Illustrated
The METS will win if : They continue to get the solid starting pitching that brought them back from the dead in the season's final four games. The Mets' high-powered offense seemingly fell asleep in September. Whether it wakes up ot not, New York's pitching staff has to shut down a lineup that scored a league-high 898 runs. Don't count on it: The D'backs bashed the Mets for a .316 average, 11 homers and 63 runs while winning seven of nine against the Mets this season.
| Hitting:|| D'backs ||The league's highest-scoring offense barely edges a stocked-but-streaky Mets lineup|
| Starting Pitching:|| D'backs||Stottlemyre and Daal are no picnic for the Mets after Johnson in Game 1|
| Bullpen:|| Mets||They may be overworked, but relievers have been the most dependable part of New York's staff all season |
| Defense:|| Mets ||Arizona will have to earn every run against this airtight infield|
| Bench:|| Even||Mets' Franco and D'backs' Colbrunn two of most dependable pinch hitters in the majors|
| Manager:|| D'backs||It's a Battle of Micromanagers, and Showalter seems to have things running a little more smoothly than Valentine|
The DIAMONDBACKS will win if : They give Randy Johnson some run support, something he lacked all season and in losing his last five postseason starts. Last year the Big Unit gave up just three earned runs and struck out 17 in two Division Series starts for Houston -- and lost them both. This season he was more fearsome than ever, and with any support from his mates could have had 23 wins instead of 17. If the D'backs get him four runs in each outing, Johnson almost guarantees them two victories in a five-game series and a ticket to the NLCS.
Don't be surprised if : The Mets run out of gas. Arizona coasted into the postseason, but the Mets staggered through a grueling stretch run, blowing a four-game wild-card lead, making up a two-game deficit with three to play, and riding an emotional Tilt-A-Whirl along the way. Plus, when Game 1 ends they will have played three games in three days in three different cities and two different time zones. Every game in the last two weeks has been a playoff game for the Mets. How much is left in the tank?
X Factor : Erubiel Durazo. The D'backs rookie first baseman was called up in July and hammered major league pitching like a jaded veteran, hitting .329 with 11 homers and 30 RBIs in 52 games. If Durazo holds up under postseason pressure, getting him out after facing Jay Bell, Luis Gonzalez, Matt Williams and Steve Finley may be too much for any staff to handle.
Prediction : Diamondbacks in four.
Sports Illustrated staff writer Stephen Cannella will be contributing regularly to CNNSI.com throughout the playoffs.
Visit Multimedia Central for the latest audio and video
|Search our site
||Watch CNN/SI 24 hours a day
||Sports Illustrated and CNN have combined to form a 24 hour sports news and information channel. To receive CNN/SI at your home call your cable operator or DirecTV.