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.


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.


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.

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.