Chicago Cubs @ Arizona Diamondbacks
October 3rd, 2007
Chase Field, Phoenix, Arizona
Series Opener (0-0)
Probable Pitchers: Cubs: Carlos Zambrano D-Backs: Brandon Webb
The Chicago Cubs at 85-77 won the NL Central by 2 games over the Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers had gotten off to a great start and led the NL Central from April 21st, all of May, all of June, and July. On August 17th the Chicago Cubs took over 1st place and rode that until seasons end. This seasons Chicago Cubs was a team that took its many bumps, bruises, and spills. From brawls with the Padres to Lou Pinella kicking dirt. The Cubs were in contention all season long and finally took over. They used their own Chicago magic to overtake the Brewers. Their magic was fueled by solid pitching. Led by Big Z, the Cubs finished the season 2nd in ERA, 1st in BAA, 2nd in OPS, 8th in SVS, 2nd in WHIP, and 6th in QS. Zambrano had his late season problems and has seemingly come out of them. In his last start, he went 7 innings of shut out baseball. The Cubs were not the greatest hitting team in the NL, and really lacked power during the season. Although being 1st in 2B's, the Cubs were a dismal 11th in HR's.
The Arizona Diamondbacks at 90-72 won their division, the NL West, by only 1 game over the San Diego Padres. The D-Backs pitching staff is led by Brandon Webb, and at seasons end he was the only pitcher will real quality looking numbers. It was really the bullpen that did the job for the D-Backs. Once they got leads they were normally safe as the D-Backs were 1st in Saves. Jose Valverde was incredible during the season with a 2.66 ERA, 47 Saves, in 64.3 IP. The D-Backs had their trouble producing runs. A team that was 16th in AB's, they were not inside the Top 5 in any major hitting category. You look across the board and they were inside the Top 5 in only 3B's and SB's. This club is a team that manufactures runs. They have 3 different players with at least 10 SB's. Eric Byrnes, the leader in SB's with 50, crossed the plate 103 times. This team was involved in 54 1 run games and won 34 of them. That is an example of finding ways to win.
On paper, the Chicago Cubs look to be the better team. They have the better overall hitting and pitching numbers. But you can't overlook the D-Backs. They are a team that found ways to win all season long and won their division. The season series between them was won 4-2 by the Diamondbacks. 2 of the games were decided by 1 run and the D-Backs won both. The Chicago Cubs are going to need to put up some early runs on the Diamondbacks before that bullpen is thrown at them. The pitchers and their catcher are going to have to be on the same page at all times while those D-Back baserunners are inching out a lead. The quick and pesky D-Backs will definately give the Cubs problems. If Big Z can deliver a win in Game 1, the Cubs have a good matchup in Game 2 with Lily on the mound.
Deciding Factor: The Cubs can and will score runs, but will the Diamondbacks?
I say: Chicago Cubs Win in 5 Games.