Date/Time: October 1st, 8:07 PM ET
Probable Starters: Cueto (Cincinnati) vs. Liriano (Pittsburgh)
Moneyline: Pirates -120
For the first time in 21 years, there is playoff baseball in Pittsburgh! The Pittsburgh Pirates are playing in the Wild Card Game against the Cincinnati Reds in what amounts to be the seventh game between these two teams in the last week and a half.
The Reds blew their chance to host this game by losing their last five games of the regular season. That’s not good news for sure, but at least they are in this with a fight and aren’t on the wrong side of the playoffs. Can Manager Dusty Baker finally get his team to win a big time game like this one? Remember that last year in the playoffs, the Reds were up 2-0 against the San Francisco Giants, only to lose the last three games to the eventual World Series champs. We’ve only seen two starts out of RHP Johnny Cueto in the last three months, but alas, the season for Cincinnati rests on his shoulders on Tuesday. Cueto has allowed just one earned run in 12 innings of work since coming back to the rotation, but he has only taken on the Mets and the Astros, two of the worst offensive teams in the league in those games. Cueto allowed just one run in two starts against Pittsburgh this year, allowing three hits in those 12.1 innings of work. The team split the two games.
Pittsburgh finally broke through the .500 barrier for the first time in two decades, and it is now in the second season and ready to rumble. The team is gritty and has a lot of young talent, but this is the first time that the massive majority of this roster has seen what the second season looks like. It worked for the Baltimore Orioles last year in the Wild Card game, and Manager Clint Hurdle is hoping that his Bucs are anywhere near as lucky this time around. The ball is left in the hands of LHP Francisco Liriano, who revived his career and went 16-8 with a 3.02 ERA in just 26 starts this year. Had he started with the big league club, Liriano might have won 20 games and could have challenged for the Cy Young Award. There isn’t a man that the Pirates would rather have on the mound than this one, as Liriano has only allowed a total of nine runs in his last four starts heading into the postseason. Fifteen times in 26 starts this season did teams only score one run or no runs off of Liriano, and he would love a start like that on Tuesday night.
The bad news for Liriano? In four starts this year against the Reds, he is 0-3, and the team is 0-4. Cincinnati is going to be a sharp, sharp team on Tuesday night, and we think that it is going to figure out how to get out of this one alive to move onto the NLDS against the Cardinals.
Cincinnati Reds @ Pittsburgh Pirates Pick: Cincinnati Reds +111
is a staff writer living in the Orlando area. He has covered NFL, MLB, college football, CFL, AFL, NBA, college basketball, NASCAR, golf, tennis, and the NHL for a number of various outlets in his career, and he has been published by a number of different media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal.