One Game Determines the Season
I always thought of the Wild Card as a rough platform as it’s a one game series to determine a team’s fate after they’ve experienced a 162 game marathon. Any team can have one bad game, but they’ll need to be their best as it’s one game and you’re in for a chance to advance and win the World Series title.
MLB odds favor the Pirates at a price of -136, and the total has been set at 6.5.
Cincinnati Reds (90-72) at Pittsburgh Pirates (94-68)
Pirates Get Home Field
Thanks to a convincing sweep against the Reds in the final series of the regular season, the Pittsburgh Pirates get the home field advantage tonight as the game will be held at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This has been a storybook season for the Bucs, who had not had a winning season in 2 decades. For the entire 2nd half of the season, they were battling it out for the National League Central Division Title with the St. Louis Cardinals, but ultimately St. Louis’ experience won out.
Cueto vs. Liriano
This is a fairly even matchup. Although Johnny Cueto (5-2, 2.82) has been out for a portion of the season, he’s proven to be dominant at times in the past and that’s what the Reds will need when they face Francisco Liriano (16-8, 3.02) at his home park. Cueto is 13-4 against Pittsburgh with a 2.37 ERA in 21 career starts and these numbers can’t be overlooked.
Liriano has been dominant at PNC Park this season. In 11 home starts, the left-hander is 8-1 with a 1.47 ERA while holding the opposition to just a .174 batting average.
With all of Liriano’s dominance at home, there’s hope for the Reds in the fact that Liriano had a rough September, going 1-2 with a 5.14 ERA and was 0-3 in 4 starts against the Reds this season. Of the 4 starts, 3 were quality in which Pittsburgh didn’t provide run support while the other start was poor. This is basically an even matchup due to Cincinnati’s success against Francisco Liriano this season.
The Difference Maker
Both teams have a superstar hitter, backed up by a slugger that can change the outlook of a game with one swing of the bat. That said, how often is it that a player get’s 5 walks in a game? Joey Votto has earned the reputation of coming up big in clutch situations. Except for a disadvantage where speed is concerned, Votto’s numbers are very similar to that of Pittsburgh star Andrew McCutchen. If it’s a game winning situation, I’ll take Votto at bat every time. On the season, Votto has 24 HR, 73 RBI and a .305 BA.
He’s surrounded by 100 RBI hitters in Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce. Shin-Soo Choo is one of the best leadoff men in the game for the Reds with his combination of power and speed. Pittsburgh has a formidable lineup with McCutchen, Byrd, and a slugger like Pedro Alvarez, but for my money, Cincinnati has the more dangerous offense. This game will come down to the starting pitching and both pitchers have had major success with Liriano at home and Cueto’s dominance against the Reds.
Due to Cueto’s lack of innings this season, I’m going to lean towards Pittsburgh with my sports pick. The Pirates have exceeded expectations this year and I can’t see them being “one and done”.
Pick- Pittsburgh Pirates -128 at Bet 365
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