Francisco Liriano is the right man to beat the Reds

Jonathan Daniel

Why I like Pittsburgh to win the Commissioner "Bud" Selig Memorial Game (National League Edition), I mean.

Not why I like the actual city; if you don't know, you need to visit sometime. And not why I just flat-out like the Pirates; Grant covered that pretty well already. No, this is about why I think the Pirates are going to beat the Reds in their one-game Wild Card thing.

Yes, to some degree it's a coin-flip game, just like any other game between two well-matched baseball teams. I understand the power of chance in such a baseball game. But if you were going to choose any National League pitcher to face the Cincinnati Reds, whom would it be?

Okay, Clayton Kershaw. But after Kershaw, whom?

It might well be Francisco Liriano, who just happens to actually be facing the Reds in this singular game.

Why Liriano?

The Reds finished third in the National League in scoring this season. That's impressive. What's surprising, though? They essentially relied on just three hitters. Seriously. Or to be slightly more kind, four hitters. Fourteen Reds batted more than 100 times this season, but only four finished with league- and park-adjusted hitting stats better than average: Joey Votto, Shin-Soo Choo, Jay Bruce, and Xavier Paul.

You know what else they have in common? They all bat left-handed.

Francisco Liriano throws left-handed. Francisco Liriano destroyed left-handed hitters this season. Obliterated them. Crushed them. Annihilated them. Choose your own Verb of Destruction, whatever.

He was tough against right-handed hitters, too. But lefties went 17 for 130 against Liriano this season, along with seven walks and those two measly doubles.

Is he really this tough? Nobody's really this tough.

Consider, though ... Liriano's last good season was 2010. That season, Liriano gave up six extra-base hits to left-handed hitters: four doubles, two triples. They batted .218 against him, but none of those hits were home runs. When he's right, he's just really, really, really tough on left-handed hitters. Because of his damned slider.

Dusty Baker doesn't have any counter. He has to play Choo and Votto and Bruce, and his best right-handed hitters are Brandon Phillips and Todd Frazier, neither of whom was particularly good this season.

Baseball's really good at making a fool of the odds over the course of just nine innings. But instead of being a 50/50 game, this one's more like 55/45, maybe even a tick or two more lopsided. In baseball, that's ... well, choose your favorite adjective. Just don't bet on the Redlegs.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.