The Cubs Will Win the Division
My take on the National League Central after yesterday’s dramatic 8-7 Cub victory over the Cardinals:

Since pitching is key in the playoffs, and since the Cubs’ strength is their top four starters, I think the Cubs have a dark-horse shot at the World Series. Wood, Prior, and Zambrano are all capable of dominating the game every time out. Even Matt Clement has streaks where his stuff is scary, and if he gets hot at the right time, the Cubs could be in the NL finals before the other team wakes up.

To wit: The Cubs’ four top starters went 4-2 over the last week (actually, 2-1, but the Cubs won 4 of the 6 games they started) with a phenomenal 1.86 ERA. That should be good enough to win in best-of-five or best-of-seven, if the Cubs get any kind of hitting at all.

Losing Corey Patterson earlier this year was tough, but with Lofton/Glanville as his two-headed replacement in center, Ramirez at third, and Grudzielanek (too bad Harry isn’t around to pronounce his name) playing out of his skull, they ought to be able to scratch out three or four runs every game.

The key will be getting eight innings out of their starters. Stay out of the bullpen until they get to Borowski! I’m stumped as to why Kyle Farnsworth sometimes seems afraid to put his 99-mph fastball over the plate.

Cards? Great offense, solid defense, but no pitching after Morris and Woody Williams. And Woody’s been roughed up by the Cubs twice in the series. Isringhausen is a top closer, but you’ve gotta have something to save. The radio sports guys here in St. Louis were ready to concede the division to the Cubs after yesterday’s bullpen meltdown.

Astros? It’s September. Watch them fade like cheap curtains.

Incidentally, Mike Ditka sang “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” at Wrigley Field yesterday, which made me wonder if somewhere Bill Swirsky’s Super Fans were pulling for Ditka to come in and close out da ninth.

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