National League Wild Card (Pittsburgh v Cincinnati)

NL Wild Card

Welcome to October, where 10 teams are given the chance to win the World Series and it brings excitement out of every game. Tonight, the Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates will start the 2013 Postseason at PNC Park.

Here is how the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds managed to get to October Baseball.

The Pittsburgh Pirates–managed by 2007 NL Pennant manager Clint Hurdle–reached October baseball for the first time since 1992, I was a 3 month old baby when they reached the postseason and won more than 81 games, they had 20 losing seasons till this season. The Pirates are bringing five players that are new to the postseason experience, only four players have had postseason experience. The Pirates have been under restructuring since 2011, and now it has finally paid off, Clint Hurdle and the original 5 pirates since 2011 have been a factor of being a contender.

The Cincinnati Reds–managed by 2002 NL Pennant manager Dusty Baker–has reached the postseason for the third time in four years, hoping to avenge the early exits of postseason baseball. The Reds have been in the postseason under the managing of Baker in 2010, 2012 and 2013. The Reds bring back eight of the nine players that played last years’ NLDS against the San Francisco Giants. The Reds have been always a consistent team under Baker, but still haven’t found their hot streak, the Reds fanbase have been hating on Dusty Baker’s managing, they prefer him to be fired if they don’t succeed in the postseason. In the baseball world, fans can’t control their fantasies and have to face the music.

Break down the lineups:

Pittsburgh Pirates

  • Pitcher: Francisco Liriano 
  • Catcher: Russell Martin
  • First Base: Justin Morneau
  • Second Base: Neil Walker
  • Third Base: Pedro Alvarez
  • Shortstop: Clint Barmes
  • Left Field: Starling Marte
  • Center Field: Andrew McCutchen
  • Right Field: Marlon Byrd

Postseason Experience

Cincinnati Reds

  • Pitcher: Johnny Cueto
  • Catcher: Ryan Hanigan
  • First Base: Joey Votto
  • Second Base: Brandon Phillips
  • Third Base: Todd Frazier
  • Shortstop: Zack Cozart
  • Left Field: Ryan Ludwick
  • Center Field: Shin-Soo Choo
  • Right Field: Jay Bruce

Playoff Debut

Dissect the Starting Pitchers.

Johnny Cueto

Trying to avenge his early exit in the first postseason game of 2012 for the Cincinnati Reds, Johnny Cueto. Cueto was starting Game 1 of the NLDS, but his delivery in the pitch caused him to have a back injury in San Francisco, which led to an early exit after eight pitches. Cueto also pitched in the 2010 NLDS, allowing 1 ER in 5.1 IP. Cueto’s numbers are a 1.69 ERA and 1.125 WHIP in Postseason play.

Johnny Cueto has had success at PNC Park, and the numbers don’t lie. Cueto’s lifetime numbers against the Pirates is a 13-4 record with a 2.37 ERA in 21 starts. Now what about the PNC Park numbers?  Cueto has 13 starts and has a 1.90 ERA, complement that with a .186 BAA. Good for Reds to have that guy back.

Cueto has pitched at PNC Park two times this year and both were good starts, one of them ended early and that led to one of his 3 stints on the Disabled List. Cueto’s April start was the one start that led him to the Disabled, a lat strain. The second start was a beauty, he pitched 8 innings and allowed ONE hit, good right. The cumulative numbers at PNC park look like this.

  • 12.1 IP, 3 H, ER, 2 BB & 9 SO.
  • BAA .075, ERA 0.73 and WHIP 0.41.
  • Per 9 numbers, 2.19 H, 1.46 BB, 6.57 K. K/BB is 4.50.
  • GRADE: 93.69% (A)
  • Rates: 7.50% (H), 2.50% (R), 5% (BB), 22.50% (SO), 0.00% (HR)

Francisco Liriano

Johnny Cueto’s counterpart–Francisco Liriano–returns to the Postseason, where he made appearances in the 2009 and 2010 ALDS. It is good Pittsburgh has given the ball to Liriano, for postseason experiences. In the 2 years he was in the postseason, he has a 5.87 ERA and has only pitched 7 2/3 IP.

So for Liriano, who granted free agency in October 2012 ,has not disappointed the Pirates. Liriano signed with the pirates for $7 million. Liriano has been a dominating force at PNC Park, pitching 11 games with a 8-1 1.47 ERA, the only loss came against tonight’s oppenent, the Cincinnati Reds. When Liriano was in the American League, he has played two games and has pitched 13.2 IP, 9 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 17 SO & HR. The BAA was a .180, ERA 1.98 and WHIP 0.88. Now for his matchup against the Reds at PNC Park.

  • 14 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 18 SO & HR
  • BAA .143, ERA 1.93 and WHIP 0.79.
  • Per 9 numbers, 4.5 H, 2.57 BB, 11.57 K and 0.64 HR. K/BB is 4.50.
  • GRADE: 84.92% (B)
  • Rates: 14.29% (H), 6.12% (R), 8.16% (BB), 36.73% (K), 2.04% (HR)

Which pitcher has the edge in this game?

FRANCISCO LIRIANO: Strikeouts

JOHNNY CUETO: Hits, Runs, Walks and Home Runs.

Liriano has been a dominant force for the Pirates, pitching 161 Innings and striking out 163 this season. The season he has had grades to a 76.43% (C), above average for most starting pitching. Liriano had a BAA of .217, ERA of 3.02 and a 1.22 WHIP. The rates are decent as well this season for him, 21.72% (H), 8.75% (R), 10.21% (BB), 26.42% (K), 1.46% (HR). The Per 9, 7.49 H, 3.52 BB, 9.11 K & 0.50 HR. K/BB is 2.59.

Cueto, could of been good this season for the Reds, only pitched 60.2 innings and striked out 51. In a 200 inning season, he would of had 152 H, 66 R, 63 ER, 59 BB, 168 SO & 23 HR, 2.84 ERA & 1.06 WHIP. Cueto’s grade this season was a 78.48% (C). Cueto had a BAA of .202, ERA of 2.82 and a WHIP of 1.05. The rates are still good for Cueto, a 20.18% (H), 8.77% (R), 7.89% (BB), 22.37% (K) and 3.07% (HR). The Per 9, 6.82 H, 2.67 BB, 7.57 K, 1.04 HR. The K/BB is 2.83.

Meet the Skippers.

Dusty Baker

Dusty Baker, an outfielder for the MLB from 1968 to 1986, had played for four teams (Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants and Oakland Athletics). After Baker’s playing days, he started out as a first base coach with the San Francisco Giants in 1988. After the 1988 season, Baker soon became the hitting coach from 1989-1992 with the Giants. After the 1992 season, he started his managing days, he has only managed three teams (San Francisco Giants, Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds), in the 3175 games that he has managed, he has a 1671-1504 record, a .526 PCT. The playoff résumé is sub par, going 19-25, he only had 1 winning postseason (2002 with a 10-7 record). Dusty is looking at advancing farther and winning the 12 games to win a world series.

Pirates at Orioles June 14, 2012

Clint Hurdle, an outfielder for the MLB from 1977 to 1987, had played for five teams (Kansas City Royals, Cincinnati Reds, New York Mets, St. Louis Cardinals and New York Mets). After Hurdle’s playing days, he started out in the minor league systems in 1988. Following the next four years in the minor leagues, he went to Colorado’s farm systems to be a hitting instructor, he became the Rockies hitting coach in 1997. Hurdle kept that hitting coach till 2002, when he replaced Buddy Bell. Hurdle managed the Colorado Rockies from 2002 to 2009, his Rockies went to a World Series in 2007 and were swept by the Boston Red Sox. After being fired in 2009, the Texas Rangers hired him as hitting coach for 2010, which led to an AL Pennant. After the World Series, the Pittsburgh Pirates hired Hurdle. Hurdle has managed 1,645 games, owns a 779-866 record .474 PCT, his postseason résumé is good at 7-4, the only losses were in the 2007 World Series.

Cueto-Liriano

Prediction:

Johnny Cueto: 6.1 IP, 6 H, 2B, HR, 2 R, 2 BB & 5 SO

Francisco Liriano: 6.2 IP, 6 H, HR, 2 R, 2 BB & 8 SO

*Rates are determined on the independent variable divided by At-Bats, sabermetrics changed it to Plate Appearances (or in pitcher’s view “Batters faced”). Rates didn’t change drastically and there was no point in doing the PAs.

Which offense players will Cueto and Liriano be concerned for? 

  • Johnny Cueto: Marlon Byrd, Andrew McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez
  • Francisco Liriano: Todd Frazier, Ryan Ludwick and Zack Cozart

Enjoy the game, next blog post will preview the National League Division Series.

PNC Park

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