|1. Damian Miller: The catcher was a workhorse for the Diamondbacks before straining his shoulder two weeks ago. The injury was diagnosed as a strain, but an MRI showed some irritation in the rotator cuff. The club referred to that as a "chronic" injury from the wear and tear of the season rather than something to cause concern. After sitting out, Miller was able to play over the weekend in Milwaukee. His return is important, as he knows the Arizona pitchers well and is far more potent with the bat than backups Rod Barajas and Chad Moeller.
2. Curt Schilling/Randy Johnson: Ever since the Diamondbacks acquired Schilling in July of 2000, the talk was that the Diamondbacks would be tough to deal with in the playoffs with Schilling and Johnson at the top of the rotation. Arizona missed out on the postseason last year, so this is the first time the theory has been tested. If either of these players loses his first start, it could give the Cardinals a real confidence boost.
3. Luis Gonzalez: At times during the season, Gonzalez single-handedly carried the Diamondbacks' offense. In any other year, he would be the likely NL Most Valuable Player, but Barry Bonds and his 73 home runs seems to have that award locked up. He played in all 162 games in part because he was fearful of resting down the stretch and losing his stroke. He felt that happened to him in 1999 when he hit just .200 in the NLDS. The Diamondbacks will need a big series out of him.
4. Tony Womack: It's been a tough season for the shortstop, but over the last month he's been one of the team's hottest hitters, and they'll need for him to stay that way during the postseason. When Womack is getting on base, he's a disruptive force on the base paths and sets up the rest of the offense. He has improved his defense recently, and that will also be important for the club in the playoffs.
5. Byung-Hyun Kim: With Matt Mantei out for the season, the D-backs turned to the youngster from South Korea. Kim has absolutely nasty stuff, but he can run into trouble when he is unable to control his pitches. He was unhittable for a stretch of the season, then scuffled before seemingly settling back down. Recently, he's shown a competitiveness that has pleased Manager Bob Brenly. With Mantei out and Bret Prinz ailing, the D-backs don't have a lot of choices should Kim fail to get the job done.
Steve Gilbert is the site manager of azdiamondbacks.com.