Cincinnati Reds at Pittsburgh Pirates (-130, 6.5)
The Pittsburgh Pirates participate in their first postseason game in 21 years when they host the Cincinnati Reds in Tuesday’s National League wild-card game. Pittsburgh secured home-field advantage by sweeping a three-game series in Cincinnati and the winner of this one-game round meets the St. Louis Cardinals in the divisional round. The Reds are in the playoffs for the third time in four seasons but staggered down the stretch with five consecutive losses to match a season-worst skid.
Cincinnati planned to start Mat Latos but scratched him due to elbow soreness and will instead go with Johnny Cueto, who has a stellar 8-2 mark with a 1.91 ERA and 0.89 WHIP in 13 career starts at Pittsburgh’s PNC Park. The Pirates opted for left-hander Francisco Liriano, who struggled against the Reds this season with a 0-3 record and 3.70 ERA in four starts. Pittsburgh standout Andrew McCutchen (.317 average, 21 homers, 84 RBIs and 27 steals) had an MVP-caliber campaign while Cincinnati star Joey Votto (.306 average, 24 homers, 73 RBIs) set a franchise record by reaching base 316 times.
TV: 8:07 p.m. ET, TBS
LINE: The Bucs opened as -120 home faves and have moved to -130. The total has remained at 6.5.
WEATHER: Temperatures will be in the high-60s. Wind will blow out to left field at 5 mph.
PITCHING MATCHUP: Reds RH Johnny Cueto (5-2, 2.82 ERA) vs. Pirates LH Francisco Liriano (16-8, 3.02)
Cueto has excelled in two starts since returning from an injury and has allowed one earned run and eight hits in 12 innings. He blanked the Pirates on one hit over eight innings on May 31 and then went on the disabled list for the second of three times this season. Cueto is 13-4 with a 2.37 ERA in 21 career starts against Pittsburgh.
Liriano has been fantastic at home, sporting an 8-1 mark and 1.47 ERA in 11 outings. Though he set a career best for victories, he struggled in September with a 1-2 record and 5.14 ERA in five starts. Liriano had a sharp outing against Cincinnati on Sept. 20 when he gave up two runs and three hits in eight innings while receiving a no-decision.
* Reds are 0-5 in their last five overall.
* Under is 5-0-1 in Cueto's last six road starts vs. Pirates.
* Pirates are 0-4 in Liriano's last four starts vs. Reds.
* Over is 4-1 in Reds last five playoff games.
1. Cincinnati 2B Brandon Phillips (shin) expects to play after being hurt while fouling a ball off his leg on Saturday.
2. McCutchen is batting .231 with three homers in 39 career at-bats against Cueto, while Votto is 2-for-10 against Liriano.
3. Pittsburgh won the season series, 11-8 – including a 5-4 mark at home.