NL Wild Card Schedule 2013: Breaking Down Reds vs. Pirates

Ryan RudnanskySenior Writer ISeptember 30, 2013

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 22: Andrew McCutchen #22 of the Pittsburgh Pirates bats against the Cincinnati Reds on September 22, 2013 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The Cincinnati Reds will take on the revitalized Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday at PNC Park, looking to put a poor head-to-head record behind them and advance to the divisional round of the playoffs.

The Pirates have won 11 of 19 head-to-head matchups this season, including the last three in Cincinnati. 

Of course, that all goes out the window when the postseason comes around. Anything can happen with the season on the line, especially in a do-or-die wild-card game.


Where: PNC Park, Pittsburgh, PA

When: Tuesday, Oct. 1 at 8 p.m. ET

Watch: TBS

Live Stream: on your mobile device.


Francisco Liriano will start for the Pirates on Tuesday, according to manager Clint Hurdle, per Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune:

Reds manager Dusty Baker has elected to go with Johnny Cueto instead of Mat Latos, per Mark Sheldon of

Starting Cueto may not be such a bad thing. The right-hander has posted a 2.82 ERA and 1.05 WHIP this season. He has looked good coming off a strained lat, allowing one run in 12 innings while notching 10 strikeouts in his last two starts.

Another thing: Cueto has allowed just one run in 12.1 innings (two starts) against the Pirates this year. He posted nine strikeouts in those two starts.

From 2010 to 2012, he owned a 6-2 record and 1.82 ERA in 11 starts against the Pirates. That included holding Pittsburgh to a .180 average during that span.

HOUSTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 16:  Johnny Cueto #47 of the Cincinnati Reds throws  in the first inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on September 16, 2013 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Bob Levey/Getty Images

Granted, Liriano has been excellent at home this season, going 8-1 with a 1.47 ERA while allowing opponents to hit just .174, but he's also 0-3 with a 3.70 ERA against the Reds this year.

The Reds have scored more runs after the All-Star break than the Pirates, in two fewer games. They also rank third in the National League in ERA during that span, while the Pirates rank seventh in the category.

Ultimately, I value Cincinnati's overall second half more than its recent five-game slide. I also like Cueto against the Pirates more than I like Liriano against the Reds.

Prediction: Reds 5, Pirates 4


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