The Reds equipped with postseason experience, as they’ve made the NL playoffs three times since 2010 will try to make sure the Pirates have to wait another year before taking the next step. Cincinnati spent much of the season as the third team in a three way race with St. Louis and Pittsburgh for the NL Central title.
Despite looking lifeless at times down the stretch, the Reds received a jolt by the return of right-hander Johnny Cueto. The 27-year-old missed most of the season with back problems but has been solid since his return on Sept. 16. The Reds are also likely to have in their lineup Brandon Phillips, their star second baseman who left Saturday’s game with a leg injury.
With tonights game quickly approaching the RFB baseball writers answer a few questions to prepare for the game.
What are the Reds chances against the Pirates?
MN: The Reds chances against the Pirates are actually better than most people realize. Cincinnati is .500 at PNC park over the last two seasons, they are coming off a series victory in their last trip there. Their chances are pretty good. I’ll take a 50/50 chance and gamble on a win. PNC will be rocking tonight, will this offense show up is the real question.
JM: Oh no doubt they have a chance its do or die and in one game playoff game anything is possible just ask the Altanta Braves. They must bring the bats because with Francisco Liriano pitching if you have a chance to get to him early take it because if you dont its gonna be a long off season. The atompshere is gonna be a college one tonight in PNC park the Reds must jump in front early to quiet them down a notch. Righ now heart saying the Reds but head saying Pirates i hope im dead wrong.
Will Billy Hamilton have an impact?
MN: I’ll go ahead and say Billy will see a pinch running appearance tonight, he will steal a base and score. Will it be the deciding run thats yet to be seen. Billy has hurt the Pirates before, look for them to pay too much attention to him. Exactly the reason Dusty will use him.
JM: Yes if the game is tied and late in the game expect to see the 23 year old to be in that siuation and what Matt said hes killed the Pirates already with three stolen bases already aganist one of the best catcher at throwing runners out in Russel Martin.
Johnny Cueto is starting, what do you expect out of him?
MN: Cueto should dominate. His arm is 140 innings fresher than any other starter on the staff. The pirates haven’t faced him much this season. Cueto looked good in his last outing. Following that outing he said he felt great and he wasn’t fully conditioned yet, I expect 8 strong innings out of him.
JM: If you seen Cueto in his first two starts after being in the DL for two momths granted it was aganist the single A Houston Astros and the New York Mets, hes looked healthy and i expected him to go 7 or 8 innings of strong ball, Cueto is out to prove for himself after lasting 8 pitches in the NLDS last season at San Franscico in Game 1.
The Reds offense has been lackluster recently, any chance they pop out of that skid?
MN: If they want to live to see another game they better get out of this skid. The last 5 games have been atrocious for them but thats not to say tonight they won’t put up 11 runs. The postseason turns every team into a new animal. Ryan Ludwick is batting second tonight, not where I would have put him. I’m not a Ludwick hater like many of you, historically though he is not a two hole hitter. Expect Votto, Phillips, Bruce and Choo to have good nights.
JM: Im gonna make this short I have no clue tonight they might erupt and score 5 or more runs, or lay egg get none or get no hit by Liriano. I honestly just dont know we will have to see at 8:07pm.
If the Reds advance they get St. Louis, how do you preview that series?
MN: Making it out of the wildcard is going to be tough. Advancing to the NLDS though, thats a whole new ball game. 5 games, winner takes all. Cincinnati has some unfinished business in the NLDS following last seasons collapse. The Reds and Cardinals hate each other, Cincinnati took 3 of 4 from the Cards in their last meeting. That matchup could very well be the most entertaining of the DS match ups.
JM: Wow, if this happen what great matchup I believe the Reds can beat the Cardinals in a 5 game series but they will have to win at St Louis which is a nightmare for them to do. But in game 1 they will face Cards ace Adam Wainwright who they owned this season but this is the playoffs so you never know nether less this should be a intense series if they win tonight first in Pittsburgh.
Sit back, tune in at 8pm ET to TBS and cheer on a Reds victory.