2013 MLB Playoffs preview: Cincinnati Reds vs Pittsburgh Pirates

The playoffs start today, technically, with the Reds and Pirates in a do-or-die game

10/1/13 in MLB   |   Pat   |   5229 respect

Sep 29, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Reds shortstop Zack Cozart (2) turns a double play during the third inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates catcher John Buck (14) at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-USA TODAY SportsLast night, the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Texas Rangers in what was technically the final regular season game of the 2013 season. The Rays will now head to Cleveland to play a one-game playoff with the Indians, to see who gets the right to play the Red Sox in the ALDS, AKA the REAL playoffs.

On the National League side, the Reds and Pirates are the ones squaring off in a one-game do-or-die game. The winner will play the St. Louis Cardinals, who beat out both of these teams to win the NL Central.

Francisco Liriano, who has had a rather impressive season, will start for the Pirates when they host the Reds tonight at PNC Park. Liriano went 16-8 in 2013 with a 3.02 ERA, a 1.22 WHIP, and he struck out 163 in 161 innings.

Liriano has been especially dominant at home for the Pirates, going 8-1 with a 1.47 ERA at PNC Park this year. That having been said, he has struggled a bit as of late, with a 5.14 ERA in the month of September.

This year against the Reds, Liriano has had some issues, going 0-3 with a 3.70 ERA. The Pirates have lost all 4 games that Liriano has started against the Reds.

The ESPN experts have unanimously picked the Pirates, despite Liriano's struggles, and also despite the fact that Reds starter Johnny Cueto has been masterful against the Pirates in his career.

Cueto is 5-2 with a 2.82 ERA this year, albeit in only 11 starts. Cueto missed considerable time this year due to injury, after finishing 4th in NL Cy Young voting in 2012.

In his career, Cueto is 13-4 against the Pirates with a 2.70, including an 8-2 record and 1.90 ERA all-time at PNC Park. That having been said, this year's Pirates team is considerably better than the ones that Cueto has seen over the years.

This year, Cueto is 1-0 against the Bucs in 2 starts, and has a 0.73 ERA against them.

Should either one of these starters falter, the Reds and Pirates could use almost any pitcher on their roster, since this is an absolute must-win game for both of them. AJ Burnett is the Pirates' projected starter in Game 1 of the NLDS if they make it that far, so one would assume that he's off limits, but everyone else would theoretically be available at some point, if necessary.

For the Reds, they'll try to win without Tony Cingrani and Mat Latos, both of whom are fighting injury issues. Virtually everyone else on their staff will be available, however.

My prediction: I think the Reds will find a way to win this one, and I think Cueto will pitch extremely well. Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, Jay Bruce et al will find a way to get to Liriano, and the Reds will move on to the NLDS against the Cardinals.
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10/10/13   |   ML31   |   3671 respect

kramer wrote:
Wrong again, genius.  This has been talked about on this site over and over, and every time the subject of the wild card comes up, YOU are the first one to cry about it in comments.  We have all stated our opinions and given reasons to support it.  You, however, are forcing everyone to see things from your point of view, and that is why you keep the argument going.  This is why we stop replying to you, because it goes on and on for 200 comments thanks to you never knowing when to stop.

I refuse to engage in any further arguments with a brick wall.

Goodbye
(Edited by ML31)

Still selectively responding.  It has indeed been discussed in the past.  But not lately.  At least, not that I have been aware of.  This is the first time I have even spoken at length about it for years here.  Why do you keep ignoring that?  Because ignoring that little fact completely undermines your comment.  I am not forcing anyone to do anything,  I wish I could.  All I have done (not for quite some time now, btw) is point out reasons why the wild card is terrible and ask for reasons why it is good.  Reasons that actually hold up under scrutiny. 

Don't blame me for the failure to justify its existence.  That is merely misplaced frustration.

10/9/13   |   kramer   |   11004 respect

ML31 wrote:
When one chooses to only look at a small portion of comments and ignore other parts that clarify and create the bigger picture...  That is selective reading.  I also haven't gone off about the wild card for ages.  I guess not talking about something constitutes "continually" in your book. 
If one wants to try and justify the overly large MLB playoff format, one should at least be prepared to support one's position.  Not run and hide the instant one fails to come up with a defense to the reasons against.
 

Wrong again, genius.  This has been talked about on this site over and over, and every time the subject of the wild card comes up, YOU are the first one to cry about it in comments.  We have all stated our opinions and given reasons to support it.  You, however, are forcing everyone to see things from your point of view, and that is why you keep the argument going.  This is why we stop replying to you, because it goes on and on for 200 comments thanks to you never knowing when to stop.

I refuse to engage in any further arguments with a brick wall.

Goodbye

10/9/13   |   ML31   |   3671 respect

kramer wrote:
It's not selective reading.  You choose to continually whine about the existence of the wild card, and I chose to stop responding to you because I am not going to stoop to your level and continue the argument...and that is not admitting "you're right," because you're not.  It is simply saying "enough is enough, move on with your life."

Have a nice day

When one chooses to only look at a small portion of comments and ignore other parts that clarify and create the bigger picture...  That is selective reading.  I also haven't gone off about the wild card for ages.  I guess not talking about something constitutes "continually" in your book. 
If one wants to try and justify the overly large MLB playoff format, one should at least be prepared to support one's position.  Not run and hide the instant one fails to come up with a defense to the reasons against.
 

10/8/13   |   kramer   |   11004 respect

ML31 wrote:
Selective reading there.

I also said that just because something exists doesn't mean it must be praised and loved. 

It's not selective reading.  You choose to continually whine about the existence of the wild card, and I chose to stop responding to you because I am not going to stoop to your level and continue the argument...and that is not admitting "you're right," because you're not.  It is simply saying "enough is enough, move on with your life."

Have a nice day

10/8/13   |   ML31   |   3671 respect

kramer wrote:
You just admitted you know it will never go away, but you keep whining about it like something IS going to change.  Your "facts" are nothing but your own opinions of why you think it doesn't work.

Do not pass GO,
Do not collect $200,
Have a nice day,
Thanks for playing.

Selective reading there.

I also said that just because something exists doesn't mean it must be praised and loved. 

10/7/13   |   kramer   |   11004 respect

You just admitted you know it will never go away, but you keep whining about it like something IS going to change.  Your "facts" are nothing but your own opinions of why you think it doesn't work.

Do not pass GO,
Do not collect $200,
Have a nice day,
Thanks for playing.

10/7/13   |   ML31   |   3671 respect

kramer wrote:
2 + 4 does not equal 5.  If you want to talk about the record versus their own division, the Pirates had a winning record against every team in the NL Central.  Also, the schedule is actually much more balanced this year than in the past.  Interleague play is the only reason it's not fully balanced.  However, every team now plays 19 games against teams in their own division.  The wild card game should actually be a 3-game series IMO, but you still can't tell one team they have to win SIX games to get to the next round, you are clearly grabbing at straws.

Just give it up, everything you are saying is nothing but a failed attempt to stand your ground on the "I hate the wild card" stance.  We get it, you don't acknowledge it exists.  It's not going anywhere, so your idea of winning extra games for the wild card team is not going to ever happen.  Crying over something that has existed for 20 years is so pathetic it's not even worthy of any more responses.

I never claimed 2+4=5.  The schedule is not balanced at all.  They play 19 games against teams in their own division and 6 or 7 against teams outside their division.  Therefore... Not balanced.  Interleague play makes it even MORE unbalanced than it already is.  Making the play in game a best of 3 still doesn't help the situation.  In fact, it would actually make things even worse for the division winners.  Face it...  There is no practical way to make the wild card work that does not penalize the division winners in some way.

Why not have the wild card team win 4 and the division winner winning 2?  The series would still max out at 5 games.  It wouldn't extend the series any longer than it already is.  And it gives the wild card team at least a LITTLE disadvantage in the post season.  This is not "grasping at straws".  It is a compromise to a terrible problem.  What is wrong with negotiating a compromise?

Nothing I have said about the wild card is a failure.  Everything I have ever said about it is 100% true.  It was 100% true 20 years ago and it is still 100% true today.  I've been waiting for 20 years for someone to give a legitimate reason for its existence.  No one has.  Even I have been able to come up with one.  Yet no one has ever made that argument. 

You want facts faced?  Here are the facts...  The wild card will never go away and it has never worked and never will.  Both things can be equally true.  Just because it isn't going anywhere doesn't mean it must be embraced.

10/7/13   |   kramer   |   11004 respect

ML31 wrote:
What you and the wild card defenders are still failing to realize is what the Giants and the Pirates have in common.  Which is the most important factor.  Neither team was the best team in their group.  Total wins only are telling against teams from their own division.  Total wins across the league are only useful if there were a balanced schedule.  And if the schedule was balanced, there would be no need for a playoff.
You are also failing to understand the concept of making one team have a tougher road than another.  Something should be done to make the wild card team have some sort of disadvantage.  They still have none as the play-in game does not provide that.

Quite frankly even the division winner wins 2 wile the wild card wins 4 of a best of 5 isn't quite fair enough.  The only way to be truly fair is to make the 2nd place team make up the games they finished behind.  In the case of the Pirates and Cards, the Pirates should need to win 3 games against St. Louis just to get even.  Therefore, a format needs to be created that requires the Pirates to win 6 games (the 3 from the best of 5 and the 3 games they tailed to the Cards at the end of the season) while the Cards still need only win 3.  This really is logistically impossible but is the only fair way to to allow the presence of wild card teams in the post season.
No basic math rules were broken anywhere in any message I have written.

2 + 4 does not equal 5.  If you want to talk about the record versus their own division, the Pirates had a winning record against every team in the NL Central.  Also, the schedule is actually much more balanced this year than in the past.  Interleague play is the only reason it's not fully balanced.  However, every team now plays 19 games against teams in their own division.  The wild card game should actually be a 3-game series IMO, but you still can't tell one team they have to win SIX games to get to the next round, you are clearly grabbing at straws.

Just give it up, everything you are saying is nothing but a failed attempt to stand your ground on the "I hate the wild card" stance.  We get it, you don't acknowledge it exists.  It's not going anywhere, so your idea of winning extra games for the wild card team is not going to ever happen.  Crying over something that has existed for 20 years is so pathetic it's not even worthy of any more responses.

10/7/13   |   ML31   |   3671 respect

kramer wrote:
Again your explanation is flawed.  The Pirates matched up well against the Cardinals and also won 94 games overall, the Giants meanwhile beat the Dodgers 11-9 but finished the year with a losing record and were a huge disappointment as defending champions.  Also, your math doesn't add up.  In a best of 5 series, if a team only wins 2 games that leaves them short.  There's a reason it's called "BEST OF 5" or "BEST OF 7."  That's the same in every single sport that has playoff series, one team has to win four in a series to advance to the next round, or to win it all.  I know you utterly hate the wild card, but you can't change the rules of basic math to make your own personal idea work.

What you and the wild card defenders are still failing to realize is what the Giants and the Pirates have in common.  Which is the most important factor.  Neither team was the best team in their group.  Total wins only are telling against teams from their own division.  Total wins across the league are only useful if there were a balanced schedule.  And if the schedule was balanced, there would be no need for a playoff.
You are also failing to understand the concept of making one team have a tougher road than another.  Something should be done to make the wild card team have some sort of disadvantage.  They still have none as the play-in game does not provide that.

Quite frankly even the division winner wins 2 wile the wild card wins 4 of a best of 5 isn't quite fair enough.  The only way to be truly fair is to make the 2nd place team make up the games they finished behind.  In the case of the Pirates and Cards, the Pirates should need to win 3 games against St. Louis just to get even.  Therefore, a format needs to be created that requires the Pirates to win 6 games (the 3 from the best of 5 and the 3 games they tailed to the Cards at the end of the season) while the Cards still need only win 3.  This really is logistically impossible but is the only fair way to to allow the presence of wild card teams in the post season.
No basic math rules were broken anywhere in any message I have written.

10/5/13   |   kramer   |   11004 respect

ML31 wrote:
They very will could match up well head to head.  That doesn't make deserving of the post season.  The Giants were 11-9 against the Dodgers this year.  They matched up decently against them but I would certainly not argue the Giants deserve a chance to face the Dodgers in the post season....

Again your explanation is flawed.  The Pirates matched up well against the Cardinals and also won 94 games overall, the Giants meanwhile beat the Dodgers 11-9 but finished the year with a losing record and were a huge disappointment as defending champions.  Also, your math doesn't add up.  In a best of 5 series, if a team only wins 2 games that leaves them short.  There's a reason it's called "BEST OF 5" or "BEST OF 7."  That's the same in every single sport that has playoff series, one team has to win four in a series to advance to the next round, or to win it all.  I know you utterly hate the wild card, but you can't change the rules of basic math to make your own personal idea work.

10/3/13   |   ML31   |   3671 respect

kramer wrote:
Isn't it funny that head-to-head, the Pirates won the season series 10-9 over the Cardinals.  The two teams have been evenly matched for a while now when they play each other.  Yes, the Cardinals won the division, but for as much as I've thrown my own team under the bus for so many years, they are an even match for St. Louis head-to-head.

They very will could match up well head to head.  That doesn't make deserving of the post season.  The Giants were 11-9 against the Dodgers this year.  They matched up decently against them but I would certainly not argue the Giants deserve a chance to face the Dodgers in the post season....

10/3/13   |   ML31   |   3671 respect

Pat wrote:
Since day 1, you've been opposed to the idea of having a wild card. One of the main reasons you stated was because you thought it was unfair for the wild card teams and division winners to essentially receive the same reward.

Now that the wild card teams ARE at a severe disadvantage, based on the fact that they have to win a 1-game playoff simply to reach the LDS, you still aren't happy.

Based on the inconsistency of your argument, it seems as though you're complaining just to complain, at this point, and there's really no point in taking you seriously.
(Edited by ML31)

The one game play in is certainly NOT a disadvantage.  It's merely an extra step in the wrong direction.  It allows still MORE non-first place teams in the post season.  Plus, the team that wins that game is going into the rest of the post season on a roll.  Therefore, they have the advantage.  You want to give the division winners an advantage?  No home games for wild card teams at any level.  Including the World Series.  Further, in best of 5 series' the wild card team should win 4 games while the division winner would need only 2.  In best of 7, the wild card team needs to win 5 while the division winner needs only 3.  Do both of those and only then would the wild card team have a tougher road. 
You are right about one thing...  Even if that is done it won't be all that great.  It would merely be the best of a bad situation.

The only inconsistency are the arguments in favor of this travesty.

10/3/13   |   kramer   |   11004 respect

ML31 wrote:
But, how fair is it for a team to finish 2-5 games ahead of another team only to have the opportunity to be knocked out of the post season because of ONE game?  Makes one wonder why the regular season is so long and why it is even played...

Further, if you want to use the "better" team argument it fails anytime it is brought into the wild card discussion.  Remember...  The playoffs aren't about giving the best teams a shot at the title.  The Cardinals are already known to be the better team when talking about the Reds and Pirates.  So why should the known lesser teams get a shot to begin with?    

Isn't it funny that head-to-head, the Pirates won the season series 10-9 over the Cardinals.  The two teams have been evenly matched for a while now when they play each other.  Yes, the Cardinals won the division, but for as much as I've thrown my own team under the bus for so many years, they are an even match for St. Louis head-to-head.

10/2/13   |   Pat   |   5229 respect

ML31 wrote:
But, how fair is it for a team to finish 2-5 games ahead of another team only to have the opportunity to be knocked out of the post season because of ONE game?  Makes one wonder why the regular season is so long and why it is even played...

Further, if you want to use the "better" team argument it fails anytime it is brought into the wild card discussion.  Remember...  The playoffs aren't about giving the best teams a shot at the title.  The Cardinals are already known to be the better team when talking about the Reds and Pirates.  So why should the known lesser teams get a shot to begin with?    

Since day 1, you've been opposed to the idea of having a wild card. One of the main reasons you stated was because you thought it was unfair for the wild card teams and division winners to essentially receive the same reward.

Now that the wild card teams ARE at a severe disadvantage, based on the fact that they have to win a 1-game playoff simply to reach the LDS, you still aren't happy.

Based on the inconsistency of your argument, it seems as though you're complaining just to complain, at this point, and there's really no point in taking you seriously.

10/2/13   |   ML31   |   3671 respect

(Edited by ML31)

But, how fair is it for a team to finish 2-5 games ahead of another team only to have the opportunity to be knocked out of the post season because of ONE game?  Makes one wonder why the regular season is so long and why it is even played...

Further, if you want to use the "better" team argument it fails anytime it is brought into the wild card discussion.  Remember...  The playoffs aren't about giving the best teams a shot at the title.  The Cardinals are already known to be the better team when talking about the Reds and Pirates.  So why should the known lesser teams get a shot to begin with?    

10/2/13   |   kramer   |   11004 respect

Seems like Cueto cracked and the fans got to him along with the Pirates' bats.  The Bucs picked a great time to knock him around...bring on the Cardinals!

10/1/13   |   ML31   |   3671 respect

Also would like to point out that two teams from the same division should NOT be playing in the play in game.  Makes no sense.  If they MUST have this idiotic thing, the obvious solution (which of course MLB is too blind to see) is to require the play in game be two teams from DIFFERENT divisions.  If the 2nd team is from the same division as the first team, the 2nd place team with the best record from the other two divisions should get it.  This would make the "race" (such as it is) to be something and make where you finish in the standings at least a little bit worth wile....

Leave it to MLB to take a stupid idea and do the dumbest thing with it....

10/1/13   |   ML31   |   3671 respect

I still don't see why the A's-Tigers series has to wait til Friday to start...  Once again, MLB does the wrong thing in regards to their playoff schedule...

10/1/13   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Dusty Baker vs. Clint Hurdle in a tactical battle. Oh boy.