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Cincinnati Reds Wild Card Game Preview Against Pittsburgh Pirates
A new season of baseball starts today at 8:00 p.m. in Pittsburgh, PA with the National League Wild Card game between the Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates.
The game will have two Dominican Republic pitchers facing off against each other, as Francisco Liriano will be the starting pitcher for the Pirates. Liriano had a really good 2013 season, posting a 16-8 record with a 3.02 ERA in 26 starts. However, in September Liriano was 1-2 with an ERA of 5.14 in five games including a game against the Reds on September 20th where he pitched eight innings and gave up two runs while not factoring in the decision.
Johnny Cueto will start the one game Wild Card playoff game for the Cincinnati Reds. Cueto had a decent season while being plagued by a lat injury all season long. He missed close to three months of starts. Through his injury riddled season, Cueto was still able to post a 2.82 ERA and a 5-2 record. Cueto faced the Pirates on May 31st in Pittsburgh, going eight innings while not allowing a run and striking out six.
It is obvious that the pitching match up will take the spotlight in this game. It is true that the pitching will be a key, but it will be more about the bullpen than the starting pitching. The bullpens for both teams will undoubtedly be called upon often in this game. With this being a one game winner take all, both managers will have a very short leash with all pitchers. At the first sign of trouble, Clint Hurdle and Dusty Baker will make a call their respective bullpens and get pitchers ready to come into the game.
On the Reds front, Cueto is an interesting starter with his injury issues this year. The nice thing about his injuries is that they have kept him rested. He has only thrown 60.2 innings this year, so that allows his arm to be more fresh than it normally would have been at this time of the year. Many assumed that that Mat Latos would be named the one game starter, but it was revealed late last week that he has bone spurs in his elbow that has caused some swelling to occur. The Reds organization says that he should be fine to pitch in the next series against the St. Louis Cardinals should the Reds win tonight against the Pirates.
The Reds are coming into this game against the Pirates having just lost three in a row to them in Cincinnati. They will need their main players to step up in a big way to win this one game and to move deep into this 2013 postseason.
A lot of talk this season has been about Joey Votto. Votto has had a down year power wise but he set a franchise record in number of times on base. It appears that he still has not found comfort after the knee injury that caused him to miss time in 2012.
Votto, Jay Bruce and Shin-Soo Choo have had some problems against left handed pitching this year, and this game will likely be decided on how these three can handle Liriano. If the Reds can come out and attack Liriano and put some crooked number on the board and get to the Pirates bullpen early, then the Reds will have a strong hold on this game.
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