September 10, 2023 by Cory Dell
MLB The Show 23 tapped into some classic childhood memories for a lot of us old-heads with the Chase of ’98 content. That new card series trickles into Diamond Duos 35 with Jason Giambi and John Franco getting 99 overall cards in Set 4. Let’s take a look.
Mainstay of the Mets’ bullpen throughout the 90’s, John Franco is known for his Screwball while racking up 400+ saves in his career. Franco is almost the polar opposite of your typical dominant closer. Instead of throwing 100+ MPH with a wipeout Slider, Franco falls into the “soft-tossing lefty” category and relies on elite Break and Control to get the job done.
Chase of ’98 Franco gets the primary Screwball with max Control and max Break. At 74 MPH, that Screwball is going to really mess with hitter’s timing compared to the other pitches on offer. Franco also has a Sinker with 99 Control and 95 Break at 92 MPH, a Slider at 85 MPH with 96 Control and 97 Break, a 4-Seamer at 94 MPH with 93 Control and a Circle-Change at 80 MPH with 88 Control and 99 Break. You can see the nastiness is inherent to Franco’s pitch-mix, yet that lack of pure velocity hurts him in the Meta Overall rankings. This is the kind of card that will reliably get blasted on All-Star, but could yield some great results if you sequence well. I’d look for success with this card more on Hall of Fame or Legend, where the massive speed differentials and elite Control and Break should come in handy while battling skilled batters.
The other featured card in this set is Jason Giambi. Giambi was a key cog in the Oakland offense and was certainly coming into his own in 1998. This is a prototypical Giambi card, with solid Contact against both sides with 111 CON L and 118 CON R. You probably predicted the 125 POW R but the big question is always the Power against LHP. Well, this Giambi features 80 POW L which is a huge letdown, part of the reason why his Meta Overall rating is so low and ultimately why this card is way down the list of 1B in the game.
Giambi has a sweet swing, but attribute wise, this card falls so far short of starter status that even A’s theme teams will have a better option. Giambi is a popular player and the name-value will fit well on any squad, but from a pure competitive standpoint this card is nothing to write home about.
Diamond Duos 35 gets to ride the coattails of the Great Chase of ’98 program, but these cards aren’t terribly exciting. Jason Giambi is a run-of-the-mill platoon bat at best. John Franco, meanwhile, might actually be pretty viable at the moment with the Season 4 reset killing bullpens across Diamond Dynasty. Franco won’t have long-term staying power for most players, but for now adds a solid presence to bullpens that are lacking. Anytime you can add a quality LHP to your bullpen you’re doing well. The elite Control and elite Break will help Franco at least contribute for the rest of the Season.
Cory is a freelance writer that currently features for Operation Sports and ShowZone and has dabbled in streaming from time to time. Cory has been a diehard Atlanta Braves fan since birth and has tortured neighbors and family alike with avid guitar playing for the last twenty years.
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