The race for first in the National League Central will be down to its final 10 days come Friday.
Fittingly, there’s still plenty of baseball to be played between two of the teams the Reds and Pirates battling for the division crown.
Friday marks the beginning of a three game set between Cincinnati and Pittsburgh at PNC Park. The Pirates will first look to avoid a sweep against the Padres on Thursday, while the Reds will enjoy an off day after sweeping three games in Houston.
At the end of play Wednesday, St. Louis held the top spot in the NL Central by two games over second place Pittsburgh. Meanwhile, Cincinnati sat in third place, just 2 1/2 games back of first.
Much of that could change, though, as the Reds and Pirates will meet on Friday for the first of six games between the two clubs to close out the season.
“We are going to hold our destiny in our hands the next week and a half,” said Reds starter Mat Latos, who will take the mound on Friday looking for his career high 15th victory.
All three teams appear likely to be in the postseason, but it’s far from decided who will head directly to the NL Divisional Series and who will play in the Wild Card Playoff. In the meantime, the Reds and Pirates will get a taste of what the playoffs are like in the final nine games of the season, beginning with Friday’s showdown in Pittsburgh.
“It’s going to be really exciting. I’m juiced,” Reds third baseman Todd Frazier said. “You’re going to feel a little fall atmosphere. Hopefully, it’s a little nippy out there. I love it like that. It keeps me in tune. Hopefully, it will be a packed house, and a lot of craziness will happen and we come out with victories.”
Pitching Probables for the weekend:
Friday: Mat Latos vs Fransisco Liriano 7:05pm
Saturday: Homer Bailey vs AJ Burnett 7:05pm
Sunday: Bronson Arroyo vs Jeff Locke 1:35pm