What a great wild-card game to kick off the National League postseason. The Pirates have been a good story the past few seasons, only to falter down the stretch. This time, they reached the postseason for the first time since 1992, and you can bet PNC Park will be rocking as loudly as a Steelers playoff game.The Reds, meanwhile, won 97 games last year to win the division, but lost in the division series. Still, Cincinnati has more postseason experience on its roster and is certainly a dangerous team. What’s working for the Pirates: They are riding high after a 94-win season, which ended with a series sweep of the Reds. The Pirates went 11-8 against the Reds this season and have to feel good about their chances. Andrew McCutchen has had an MVP-caliber season, and Clint Hurdle is one of the best managers in the game. And it doesn’t hurt that they are hosting the game. The Pirates have a storied franchise with five World Series rings, and the town has to be electric with postseason baseball back, especially with the Steelers off to an 0-4 start. Cause for concern: Francisco Liriano has put together a season that should get him a couple Cy Young votes, but he struggled in September. He had a 5.14 ERA in five starts in the final month and has gone winless against the Reds this season. The Pirates’ bullpen has also been steady throughout the season, but there has to be some concern with Mark Melancon having a 4.66 ERA over his last 10 appearances. What’s working for the Reds: They won 90 games and have their ace rested and ready to make this start. Johnny Cueto has come off the disabled list (lat) strong in his last two starts and has a good track record against the Pirates. He had a 0.73 ERA in two starts at PNC Park this year and is 13-4 with a 2.37 ERA in his career against the Pirates. Joey Votto is one of the top players in the game, and the speedy Billy Hamilton is a threat off the bench. Cause for concern: They aren’t coming in as a hot team. The Reds lost five straight to end the season, including three to the Pirates and two to the lowly Mets. The offense also has a few holes in it with shortstop Zack Cozart batting only .254, and Ryan Ludwick struggling with a .240 average. Third baseman Todd Frazier has also regressed in his sophomore season. Prediction: It’s a roll of the dice in a one-game shootout. But the Pirates have had the Reds’ number all season, and the thought here is it continues with a 5-2 victory.
Drew Davison, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @drewdavison