Tonight's (NL Wild Card) Matchup: Reds (Cueto) @ Pirates (Liriano)

Jared Wickerham

There's only one October! (annually)

The Brewers played 19 games against the Reds this season (going 9-10) and 19 more against the Pirates (going 7-12). Brian Anderson was on the call for FS Wisconsin for almost all of those 38 games and probably knows both teams as well or better than any active broadcaster. For some reason, though, TBS has BA calling AL games this October instead of Pittsburgh's first home playoff game since Game 5 of the 1992 NLCS.

Playoff baseball returns to Pittsburgh at 7 pm tonight when Francisco Liriano (3.02 ERA, 2.92 FIP) takes the mound in this winner-take-all Wild Card Game. Liriano is looking to bounce back from a rough outing against the Cubs on Wednesday, when he allowed four runs on eight hits over just five innings.

Liriano has had a very all-or-nothing stretch recently. Over his last ten starts he's had four outings where he failed to record an out in the sixth inning, including 2.1 and 3 inning disaster starts. He's also had a seven and eight shutout inning performance, a complete game four-hitter and another outing where he cruised through eight innings on 94 pitches. He's hitting 93 consistently with his fastball this season, but over half of his pitches are either changeups or sliders.

This is the fifth time Liriano has faced the Reds in 2013. In the previous four starts he's posted a 3.70 ERA over 24.1 innings, walking ten and striking out 28. Six current Reds have faced him ten times or more:

PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
Shin-Soo Choo 32 31 6 0 0 0 2 1 10 .194 .219 .194 .412
Brandon Phillips 12 11 3 0 0 0 1 1 3 .273 .333 .273 .606
Joey Votto 12 10 2 0 0 0 0 2 2 .200 .333 .200 .533
Jay Bruce 11 11 0 0 0 0 0 0 6 .000 .000 .000 .000
Zack Cozart 11 10 2 0 0 1 1 1 3 .200 .273 .500 .773
Todd Frazier 10 9 3 0 0 2 2 1 3 .333 .400 1.000 1.400
Total 138 127 30 3 0 4 12 11 38 .236 .297 .354 .651
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 10/1/2013.

This is Liriano's third trip to the postseason. He previously went as a member of the 2009 and 2010 Twins.

He'll face Reds righty Johnny Cueto (2.82 ERA, 3.81 FIP), who is pitching for just the third time since June. He performed well against the Mets last Monday, though, allowing two runs (one earned) on just three hits over seven innings. He walked three and struck out five in that game. A lat strain limited Cueto to just 60.2 innings during the regular season.

In a limited sample size this season, Cueto has relied very heavily on his cutter. He's throwing it about 20% of the time, up from around 5% a year ago. He'll also throw a fair number of changeups and sliders to go with his 91-93 mph fastball.

Cueto has faced the Pirates twice this season and allowed a single run on just three hits over a combined 12.1 innings. Seven current Pirates have faced him ten times or more:

PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
Andrew McCutchen 45 39 9 2 0 3 5 5 6 .231 .333 .513 .846
Garrett Jones 43 39 11 4 1 1 3 4 11 .282 .349 .513 .862
Neil Walker 33 28 6 1 0 0 3 4 5 .214 .333 .250 .583
Pedro Alvarez 21 18 5 0 0 0 1 2 4 .278 .333 .278 .611
Clint Barmes 14 14 2 1 0 0 0 0 3 .143 .143 .214 .357
Marlon Byrd 14 12 7 1 0 1 3 2 2 .583 .643 .917 1.560
Russell Martin 11 11 1 1 0 0 1 0 2 .091 .091 .182 .273
Total 227 203 45 12 1 5 17 19 44 .222 .296 .365 .661
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 10/1/2013.

This is Cueto's third postseason appearance, having been a member of Reds playoff teams in 2010 and 2012. Last year he faced just one batter in game one of the NLDS before leaving due to injury.

It's time now for lineup tweets! First, the Reds:

And the Pirates:

It's a nice night for baseball in Pittsburgh. Expect a game-time temperature around 68 under clear skies.

Enjoy the game!

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