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Breaking down Pirates-Reds wild-card game

| Monday, Sept. 30, 2013, 10:39 p.m.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Pirates' Justin Morneau watches the game against the Cardinals from the dugout Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates right fielder Marlon Byrd rounds the bases past Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips after hitting a two-run homer during the fifth inning Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Pirates right fielder Travis Snider celebrates after scoring on a suicide squeeze play in the seventh inning Wednesday, May 29, 2013, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole sits in the dugout during a game against the Reds on Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.

Tribune-Review reporter Travis Sawchik breaks down the Pirates-Reds wild-card game.

Reds' projected lineup

• CF Shin-Soo Choo: Has crushed right-handed pitching but is batting .215 against lefties

• 2B Brandon Phillips: Brings strong glove and rare above-average, right-handed bat to lineup

• 1B Joey Votto: Owner of .435 OBP this season, he is 2 for 10 in his career vs. Liriano; Reds' top threat can be neutralized vs. LHP (.251 avg.)

• LF Ryan Ludwick: Is 4 for 9 against Liriano in his career but batted just .240 in regular season

• RF Jay Bruce: Produced third straight 30-homer season but is 0 for 11 in his career against Liriano

• 3B Todd Frazier: Batted .234 this season and .236 vs. lefties

• SS Zack Cozart: Above-average defensive player, he has surprising pop: 12 homers and 63 RBIs

• C Devin Mesoraco: Has two hits and three walks in nine career plate appearances vs. Liriano

• RHP Johnny Cueto: His stuff has been good in two starts since returning from DL. He has held the current Pirates to a .209 career average.

Reds' projected bench

Billy Hamilton (S), Chris Heisey, Ryan Hanigan, Corky Miller, Jack Hannahan, Cesar Izturis (S), Derrick Robinson

Breakdown: Hamilton is the fastest man in baseball and has impacted a number of games as a pinch runner. He finished the season 13 for 14 in stolen-base attempts since being called up in early September. … Heisey and Izturis have had success against Liriano. … Robinson is another speed option.

Reds' projected bullpen

Aroldis Chapman (L), J.J. Hoover, Sam LeCure, Sean Marshall (L), Homer Bailey, Manny Parra (L), Alfredo Simon, Mat Latos, Logan Ondrusek

Breakdown: The bullpen is anchored by one of the game's best closers — certainly it's most intimidating — in Chapman, who regularly touches 100 mph. … The Reds should have plenty of matchup options as they have ideal left-right balance.

Pirates' projected lineup

• LF Starling Marte: Brings much-needed speed to lineup; stole three bases Wednesday in Chicago after Pirates entered with four in September

• 2B Neil Walker: Has been better against RHP, with all 16 of his home runs coming vs. RHP

• CF Andrew McCutchen: The NL MVP favorite has three home runs in 39 career at bats vs. Cueto

• 1B Justin Morneau: His bat has cooled since joining the Pirates, but he's batting .280 with 15 HRs against RHP

• RF Marlon Byrd: While he hits for a higher average vs. lefties, he has hit 16 of his 24 homers vs. RHP

• 3B Pedro Alvarez: Of his 36 home runs, 33 are vs. RHP

• C Russell Martin: His bat has cooled in the second half, but he remains an above-average defensive catcher

• SS Clint Barmes: The team's best defensive shortstop

• LHP Francisco Liriano: Has a single-season best opponent OPS (.321) vs. left-handed hitters, key against LHH-heavy Reds

Pirates' projected bench

Josh Harrison, Garrett Jones, Jordy Mercer, John Buck, Tony Sanchez, Jose Tabata, Travis Snider

Breakdown: Snider might be a darkhorse for the roster, but he has three pinch-hit homers this season. Jones is another lefty bat option off the bench. … Mercer has started most games, but his defense has been up and down and his bat is better vs. LHP. ... The Pirates lack impact speed off the bench and are debating whether to carry three catchers.

Pirates' projected bullpen

Justin Wilson (L), Tony Watson (L), Mark Melancon, Jason Grilli, Vin Mazzaro, Gerrit Cole, Kyle Farnsworth, Bryan Morris, Jeanmar Gomez

Breakdown: Few teams have two lefty relievers who have the velocity of Wilson and Watson, who have been among the game's top lefty set-up men this season. They could be key in late-game matchups against the lefty-heavy Reds. Melancon is also solid against lefties. … With Cole not needed to pitch Sunday, he will be available out of the bullpen as a RHP capable of touching 100 mph.

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