The Reds are lucky that they did not need Johnny Cueto to make his scheduled start Sunday. There was nothing at stake in that game, and the Reds will now need Cueto to start Tuesday’s elimination wild-card game in Pittsburgh. Breitbart Sports had written that Mat Latos, ranked as the 4th most valuable pitcher in baseball at www.valueaddbaseball.com would give the Reds an edge in the wild-card game, but an elbow injury will keep him from starting.
Cueto had been the Reds’ ace the past couple of years with an ERA of under 3.00 despite pitching in a hitter-friendly park. This year he was not quite as dominant while pitching through injury, and then missing two and a half months. However, it appears he may have healed just in time, coming back to allow only one earned run in 12 innings in two starts to get his ERA down to 2.82 and give Dusty Baker confidence that he was back in form.
Even if Latos was healthy, Baker would have likely rested Cueto Sunday to have him available for relief if needed in the do-or-die game. Both Latos and Cueto have put up incredible numbers in light of having to pitch in a ballpark where the ball flies out of the park.
Value Add calculates that the Reds would have lost 12 fewer games without Latos this season (11.99 Raw Value Add), and his Value Add once adjusted for hard-luck games like his 1-0 loss in his last start and having to pitch in a hitters park will push him over 14.00 and possibly into third place in the final rankings that will come out Monday.
The Pirates have won 17 of 26 games with Francisco Liriano on the mound, enough to give them confidence of winning the first playoff game in Pittsburgh in 21 years. Liriano has received solid support, with the Pirates winning by an average score of 4.5-3.1 with him on the mound, and the defense behind him has yet to allow an unearned run.
The Pirates would have won nine fewer games (8.76 Raw Value Add) if he had not pitched, and his overall 8.84 rating makes him the 45th most valuable pitcher over more than 200 this season.