Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

Lineup breakdown: NL Wild Card Game

A look at tonight's starting lineups in the NL Wild Card Game:


1. Shin-Soo Choo, CF -- An on-base machine, Choo gets his first opportunity on the postseason stage, but he'll need to improve upon his season-long struggles against lefties (.215 average, .612 OPS).

2. Ryan Ludwick, LF -- The Reds have struggled to get production from the No. 2 spot all year, so Dusty Baker took a chance on Ludwick here, knowing that if he sends in a defensive replacement late in the game, that guy will profile better for the two-hole than, say, the five-hole.

3. Joey Votto, 1B -- Had a down year, from a run-production standpoint, but nobody does a better job making the opposing pitcher work, and that's instrumental in this setting.

4. Brandon Phillips, 2B -- Phillips started the season on a tear, but his production hasn't been quite the same since he was hit in the forearm by a pitch from Tony Watson on June 1. He's also dealing with a shin injury suffered over the weekend on a foul ball.

5. Jay Bruce, RF -- Bruce's 109-RBI season probably hasn't gotten the attention it deserves. Against Pirates pitching, though, he's managed just a .523 OPS.

6. Todd Frazier, 3B -- An NL Rookie of the Year Award candidate a season ago, Frazier took a step back this season, but he did hit four homers and drive in eight runs over his last 13 games.

7. Zack Cozart, SS -- Baker loves the bunt. Cozart leads NL position players in sac bunts. There could be some bunting here.

8. Ryan Hanigan, C -- It was a really tough year for Hanigan both from a health and production standpoint, but Cueto is most comfortable with him, and that's what matters most right now.

9. Johnny Cueto, RHP -- A year ago, he pulled up lame in Game 1 of the NL Division Series after just eight pitches. But Cueto has looked like his old self in two starts since his June 23 return from a strained right lat.


1. Starling Marte, LF -- Marte's spark was missing from the lineup for weeks after he bruised his right hand in late August. But in the last week of the season, he looked like his old self (6-for-19 in final five games).

2. Neil Walker, 2B -- The hometown boy will be living a dream come true, in a ballpark where he's hit .355 dating back to July 31.

3. Andrew McCutchen, CF -- Was hit in the head during Monday's workout but is just fine. Reds pitchers managed to hold the NL MVP Award candidate to a .232/.338/.435 slash line this season.

4. Justin Morneau, 1B -- Has not made quite the offensive impact the Pirates envisioned, but Clint Hurdle believes the quality of his at-bats and the opposition's respect for him makes him a good fit at cleanup.

5. Marlon Byrd, RF -- The 36-year-old makes his first postseason appearance against a Reds club he hit .375 against this season. Not a guy the Reds want to let face a lefty, as he's hit .344 off them this year.

6. Pedro Alvarez, 3B -- On the other hand, Baker will probably try to exploit the NL co-home run king's weak splits against lefties (.180) in the late innings.

7. Russell Martin, C -- The Reds don't want to test Martin on the basepaths, as he's thrown out an NL-best 29 runners this season. This is his sixth career postseason appearance.

8. Clint Barmes, SS -- Doesn't bring much with the bat, but his defense is one reason why the Pirates are so stingy up the middle and why they are so well-suited to this stage.

9. Francisco Liriano, LHP -- Liriano had an 0-3 record and a 3.70 ERA in four starts against the Reds this season. But he has an 8-1 record and a 1.47 ERA in 11 starts at home.

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince.
Read More: Cincinnati Reds, Pittsburgh Pirates