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World Series 2001
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10/16/2001 03:48 AM ET
Some matchups to watch in the NLCS
By Jim Molony
MLB.com
Whether it's Randy Johnson vs. Chipper Jones or Greg Swindell vs. Dave Martinez, matchups will be the key to the series. Here is a look at five such matchups:

1. Atlanta right-hander Greg Maddux vs. Arizona slugger Luis Gonzalez:
Gonzalez has fared better than most against the four-time Cy Young Award winner, hitting .282 (22-for-78) with six homers and 15 RBIs against Maddux. Gonzalez, who struggled against Atlanta pitching early in his career, has turned it around the last two seasons, including .290 last year and .300 (9-for-30) in seven games this season. How well Gonzalez does against Maddux could set the tone of this series.

2. Arizona lefty Randy Johnson vs. Atlanta third baseman Chipper Jones:
Jones hits the Big Unit as well as anyone and better than most. The switch-hitter has been on a tear lately and owns a .428 (9-for-21) career average against Johnson, with six homers and nine RBIs. Jones turned the momentum around in Game 1 of the NLDS with a late-inning long ball. The Braves need him to do it again in the NLCS.

3. Atlanta left-hander Tom Glavine against Arizona's left-handed hitters:
With all of the left-handed bats in the Arizona lineup this series could come down to whether Atlanta's lefties can shut them down, particularly Game 2 starter Tom Glavine. Atlanta's 16-game winner is 10-2 with a 2.35 ERA (counting the NLDS) since the All-Star break. However, Luis Gonzalez, Mark Grace and Steve Finley, the lefty hitters in the heart of the Arizona order, entered the season with a combined career average of .313 (62-for-198) against Glavine.

4. Atlanta catcher Paul Bako vs. Arizona shortstop Tony Womack:
If the series shakes out as a succession of pitchers' duels as some are predicting, the team that plays small ball the best will have an advantage. Womack, with 28 stolen bases this season, could give the Diamondbacks an edge. Bako, starting because Javy Lopez and Eddie Perez are hurt, is solid defensively and has an above average arm. This should be a very close battle.

5. Atlanta pinch-hitter Dave Martinez vs. Arizona lefty Greg Swindell:
In a tight game the situational matchups take on even greater importance. Swindell, a veteran lefty, has been used by Brenly to get certain left-handed hitters out. The Braves, with players like switch-hitter Ken Caminiti (.409 career average vs. Swindell) and Bernard Gilkey (.435, 10-for-23 with four walks), have plenty of right-handed options for these situations, but the key matchup might be between the pair of 16-year veterans, Martinez and Swindell. Martinez is 2-for-10 in his career vs. Swindell and Swindell has been effective in his role, striking out 42 and walking only eight, including two intentionally.

Jim Molony is a reporter for MLB.com