•Tim Hudson, RHP, A's.
Oakland started winning when he started starting (8-1, 2.72 ERA in 14 games), but the fireballer's test will come in front of 45,000-plus rowdies in Cleveland or New York, not 6,000 hometown fans in Oakland.
Playoff Readiness Rating: C+
•Billy Koch, RHP, Blue Jays.
The Toronto closer has dazzled (24 saves, 2.45 ERA) with a 100-plus-mph heater, but young hard throwers can crash in the postseason when faced with more-disciplined hitters.
Playoff Readiness Rating: B-
•McGlinchy. He spent most of 1998 as a starter at Class A Danville but surprised Atlanta manager Bobby Cox in spring training with a big-time heater and a passable slider. He was 6-3 with a 3.07 ERA (plus 53 strikeouts in 58⅔ innings) as the Braves' first righty out of the pen. "McGlinchy doesn't worry," says Cox. "He just throws hard, accurate stuff."
Playoff Readiness Rating: B
•Scott Williamson, RHP, Reds. This likely Rookie of the Year has a veteran's poise and one of the National League's best split-fingered fastballs. He also led his league's rookies in wins (11), saves (17) and ERA (1.69)—which translates into a ton of big-game experience in a relatively short time. "It might sound strange," he says, "but I've always pitched better when guys are on base."
Playoff Readiness Rating: A+
•Jeff Zimmerman, RHP, Rangers. Although he'll lose out to the Royals' Carlos Beltran in Rookie of the Year voting, Zimmerman (9-2, 1.22 ERA) is an American League version of Williamson. Zimmerman teams with fellow rook Mike Venafro (3-2, 2.60 ERA) to form a green-yet-deadly rightylefty duo.
Playoff Readiness Rating: B+