Latos Gives Reds Edge in Likely Wildcard Battle of Aces

The Reds and Pirates have their rotations set up to have each ace throw against each other Tuesday in the NL Wildcard game, so they will not need to make any adjustments in their rotations as they face this weekend to determine who gets home field advantage. Mat Latos has pitched better as the 4th most valuable pitcher at www.valueaddbaseball.com, but the Pirates have been more successful with Francisco Liriano on the mound with 17 victories in 25 starts. The rankings of each pitcher in the rotation in the database: 

Rnk Reds Rotation Wins in GS Ave. Score Rot Rnk Pirates Rotation Wins in GS Ave. Score
4 Latos, Mat 20 of 31 4.6-3.5 1 45 Liriano, Francisco 17 of 25 4.5-3.1
31 Bailey, Homer 16 of 31 4.0-3.3 2 57 Burnett, A.J. 13 of 29 3.7-3.5
44 Arroyo, Bronson 16 of 30 4.2-3.8 3 93 Morton, Charlie 9 of 18 3.6-4.4
154 Cueto, Johnny 5 of 10 3.8-3.4 4 81 Cole, Gerrit 11 of 18 4.1-2.6

Latos had received 4.6 runs of support before losing a 1-0 game Wednesday that eliminated the Reds for the NL Central race. Liriano had received 4.5 runs of support - though that is a higher level of support since he pitches half his games in Pittsburgh rather than the hitter friendly ballpark in Cincinnati that Latos calls home. Latos was much stronger Wednesday and on the season overall, as Liriano ranks 41 spots behind him as the 45th most valuable pitcher in baseball this year.

Whichever team wins two of three games this weekend gets the home field advantage for Tuesday's NL Wildcard game. If the Reds win two of three the two teams finish tied, but the Reds would then have a 10-9 head-to-head season edge for the tie-breaker.

The problem for the Pirates is that will Jeff Locke wearing down last in the season, the Pirates are only 35-32 with their No. 2, 3 and 4 pitchers on the hill (they are 33-32 on www.valueaddbaseball.com, which is reflected in the table above, but Morton and Cole received Victories since then. This also presents problems if they win the Wildcard game because those would be their three pitchers for their opening three games of a series most likely against the Cardinals - meaning Liriano may not start until a Game 4.

The Reds are in much better shape for the next series if Latos can win the Wildcard game, because they still have three other Top 50 pitchers in addition to Johnny Cueto's return. The former ace is scheduled to make his second start since returning from injury, and even if he struggles the Reds have the option of using Mike Leake - who is actually ranked as the 25th most valuable pitcher this season and had given up only two runs in three starts before being shelled this week by the Mets.

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