2013 Postseason / 2013 Reds / Series Preview

Series Preview: Regular Season Finale

As the Cincinnati Reds enter their final regular season series of 2013, the only thing left to decide for the Redlegs is where the Wild Card game will be played. Lose the series, and the team will make a day trip to Pittsburgh. Win the series, and they can sleep at home a couple of nights, playing the Wild Card round at Great American Ballpark.

These two teams just faced each other last weekend. Steve wrote a great preview on that series and covered all of Pittsburgh’s offensive and bullpen notes. This weekend’s series promises some great starting pitcher matchups.

PROBABLE STARTERS

Fri 7:10 Age IP K/9 BB/9 SwStr% ERA FIP xFIP GB%
A.J. Burnett (R) 36 183 10.0 3.2 10.6 3.39 2.76 2.91 56.6
Homer Bailey (R) 27 204 8.6 2.2 10.9 3.40 3.19 3.26 45.9

Tonight’s game is a rematch of last Saturday’s game. It was the only game the Reds lost that weekend. Each starting pitcher surrendered two earned runs, though Bailey was also on the mound for two unearned runs, which ended up being the difference in the game.

In three starts against Cincinnati this year, Burnett has a 3.38 ERA in 18.2 innings. He walked eight while striking out 28. Bailey has also faced the Pirates three times this season. He has a 3.50 ERA in 18 innings, while walking just 5 and striking out 23.

Sat 1:05 (FOX) Age IP K/9 BB/9 SwStr% ERA FIP xFIP GB%
Charlie Morton (R) 29 111.2 6.6 2.5 8.1 3.14 3.51 3.57 62.8
Bronson Arroyo (R) 36 197.1 5.6 1.5 6.0 3.60 4.19 3.93 44.4

Two crafty right-handers square off in the FOX game of the week. The Reds faced Charlie Morton just once this year back on June 18th and were held scoreless in 5.1 innings. The Reds won both games that Arroyo started against Pittburgh, most recently in last Sunday’s 11-3 victory. In those pair of starts, Arroyo allowed just 4 runs over 12 innings for a 3.00 ERA.

Sun 1:10 (TBS) Age IP K/9 BB/9 SwStr% ERA FIP xFIP GB%
Gerrit Cole (R) 25 117.1 7.7 2.1 9.2 3.22 2.91 3.13 49.1
Johnny Cueto (R) 27 60.2 7.6 2.7 11.0 2.82 3.80 3.23 50.9
Mike Leake (R) 25 192.1 5.7 2.3 6.7 3.37 4.04 3.91 48.7

Sunday would be Gerrit Cole’s first appearance against Cincinnati. The rookie has pitched very well since his midseason callup on June 11th. His Major League career started with four straight victories over the Giants, Dodgers, Angels, and Brewers. Cole comes to Cincinnati having pitched eight consecutive quality starts. He’s yet to allow more than 4 runs in a game nor go less than 5 innings in any of his 19 starts.

Johnny Cueto is currently listed as the Sunday probable starter. However, if the Reds win or lose each of the first two games, then I believe that we will see Mike Leake on the mound. An argument could be made that Leake should start this game anyways, as Tuesday is the must win game of the next four. Cueto has allowed just 1 run, 3 hits, and 2 walks in 12 innings against Pittsburgh this year. Leake has made four starts against the Pirates this year and has a 3.28 ERA in 24.2 innings.

THE WILD CARD GAME

Tues TBD (TBS) Age IP K/9 BB/9 SwStr% ERA FIP xFIP GB%
Francisco Liriano (L) 29 161 9.1 3.5 13.2 3.02 2.92 3.12 50.5
Mat Latos (R) 25 210.2 8.0 2.5 10.3 3.16 3.10 3.56 45.1

As things line up currently, Tuesday’s wild card game would feature of rematch of last Friday’s pitchers. Latos allowed 4 runs over 6 innings while Liriano limited the Reds to two runs over 8 innings. A ninth-inning comeback set the stage for the Reds to win that one in the 10th inning.

Liriano has faced the Reds four times this season. He’s allowed just two runs in each of three different starts, and was knocked out of a mid-July start after allowing 5 runs through 4.1 innings.

Latos has already faced the Pirates five times this year. Only once has he limited the club to two runs. In two outings he was lifted after allowing 3 runs over 5 innings. In a mid-April start, he allowed 3 runs over 6.2 innings. Then, most recently his four run outing last weekend.

CONCLUDING THOUGHTS
I assume that the Reds are treating this weekend like a playoff series, and will be doing everything they can to win homefield advantage for that one Wild Card game. Win or lose this weekend, the most important game for them to win is on Tuesday. If you are in the camp of belief that homefield advantage is important for the play-in game, then you’ll want to see the regulars playing every inning of every game. If you believe that homefield is mostly meaningless, then you may be in favor of seeing Mike Leake pitch on Sunday and conserving Johnny Cueto for the Tuesday start.

Either way, it should be an exciting weekend of baseball leading up to what is hopefully a prolonged stretch of Reds playoff games throughout the month of October.

23 thoughts on “Series Preview: Regular Season Finale

  1. I wish there was a little more on the line this weekend than who hosts one game. But that said, there are 10 other teams in the NL and 10 other teams in the AL that would gladly trade places with the Reds.
    Need to set the tone for Tuesday’s game through playing well in these 3 games.
    Time to play ball. Duke it out with the Buccos. We may even see a literal version of that if there are any HBP’s. Or any slooooooowwww HR trots.

  2. Ludwick batting second???

    Dusty will stop at nothing to ‘get him going’. That should tell you all you need to know about who will start in LF in the playoffs.

    Free Xavier Paul!!!

  3. “I assume that the Reds are treating this weekend like a playoff series”

    I assume this was written before we found out LOB Ludwick was batting second.

      • @Eric the Red: Honestly at this point, I would rather see Hamilton leading off and playing CF. Or XP batting maybe 6th or 7th. If Ryan isn’t hitting for power he is of little value as he is not a high average/OBP, good fielding, speedy player.

        • @CharlotteNCRedsFan: Forget about Hamilton. No team–and certainly not a Dusty Baker team–would suddenly insert a September callup like Hamilton and change everything around at this point in the season. As for XP, he’s terrible in the outfield and has hardly seen live pitching in 2 months. XP won’t start Tuesday, and Ludwick needs the reps. I’m just thrilled he’s finally out of the cleanup spot.

        • @tnirishfan: Yeah, but then Frazier is in the 2 hole and a powerless Ludwick is backing up Bruce. It’s not ideal, but 2nd is probably the best spot for him/everyone else. (Unless Dusty did what he should do and put Bruce at cleanup. Then Choo-BP-JV-JB-TF-RL-ZC-RH.

      • @Eric the Red: Gotta wonder about Ludwick’s lack of power … alleging that he’s probably good for 1 HR a week over a season (26) … and recalling how the shoulder issue with Rolen affected his bat speed. Different shoulder? I can’t recall. But it will interesting to see, moving ahead, if he can indeed drive the ball like he did.

    • @mayday26: I thought the whole thing was overblown, but throughout it I completely forgot that he grew up here and was a huge Reds fan. I think that’s all that needs to be said. If he wasn’t a player, he’d probably be posting on this board with us and he’d probably be one of the guys yelling in the stands.

    • @mayday26: This is exactly what I figured he meant anyway. It’s not that he was “misunderstood”, it’s just that our fans immaturely got defensive and took it personally. If your teammate tells you he needs more XYZ from you, and your response is “what about YOU, ya jerk”, you’re a sucky teammate, and your team is going to lose. We’re the 10th man: that’s what Ludwig was saying. I say take the criticism like adults, step up and “fan” our guts out. It might even work! I’ll be there Sunday doing just that.

  4. So regardless of the outcome of this series, it looks like a lock that Liriano will be pitching the wildcard game. Not that I think Dusty will even consider it, but don’t you have to at least think about not starting Choo? It feels insane to sit your 2nd best hitter in THE most important game of the season, but good lord is he awful against lefties and Liriano made him look like a joke last week. You obviously wouldn’t start Hamilton, but I’d think Heisey would be a better choice and then Choo is available to PH and stay in as a defensive replacement assuming we can chase Liriano. Like I said, never gonna happen, but it’s probably the smart way to go.

    • @eric nyc: For what it’s worth, Heisey is 2-for-3 against Liriano in his career with a BB and a HR. Choo is 10-for-31 with one BB and no extra base hits.

      • @eric nyc: 10-31 is pretty good, but yeah… Choo really loses all his power against lefties. 0 HR vs Lefties this season. 8 XBH in 180 AB versus Lefties compared to 49 XBH in 380 AB versus Righties.

        His slugging vs RHP is well more than double what it is vs LHP.

        • @ToddAlmighty: Yeah I was a little surprised to see him hitting Liriano that well historically, but his splits this year against lefties are even worse than his career averages. Might have something to do with GABP. But watching him, he just can’t even get a bat on a ball from a lefty this year. It’s like he can’t see them.

  5. One year ago tomorrow, Homer Bailey pitched a no hitter on a Friday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates. He faced A.J. Burnett and the score ended 1-0. The game was in Pittsburgh, though, not Cincinnati.

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