By: Nick McGill
After the Cincinnati Reds’ 10-inning victory over the N.Y. Mets on Monday, the Reds clinched atheirthird playoff birth in the last four years.
But the question still remains: Where will the Reds end up in the standings at the end of the season?
As of Tuesday morning, the Cardinals held a two-game lead over the Pirates and Reds in the NL Central, while the Bucs and Redlegs were fighting for the top spot in the Wild Card race.
While both the Reds and Pirates are striving to win the division, it seems more logical that they will have to duke it out to take the Wild Card crown.
Of the five games remaining in the season, three of those games will be held at Great American Ballpark between the Reds and the Pirates.
At this point it looks like the winner of this series will clinch the Wild Card and host the NL Wild Card play-in game on Oct. 2.
Home field advantage will be a huge factor for this game, as the Reds are 49-26 at home and the Pirates are 50-31 at PNC Park.
Heading down this final stretch, there is much attention on certain aspects of the Reds game.
Reds ace Mat Latos recently said he was pitching with an abdominal strain for almost three months.
It appears as though Latos will continue to pitch but this may worry the Reds organization.
On the other hand, Johnny Cueto threw a solid seven innings and allowed only one earned run in Monday’s victory over the Mets in his second start since coming off of the Disabled List.
In the batter’s box, there continues to be above-average production from the bottom of the lineup, which could be a deadly weapon headed into the playoffs.
With Latos, Homer Bailey and Bronson Arroyo scheduled to pitch the final three games of the season, the prospect of who will start the play-in game remains in question.
Bailey has historically been successful against the Pirates including a no-hitter against them last year, but he is pitching close to the end of the season and may not get his normal amount of rest.
Latos has been the Reds ace throughout the year but is fighting through an injury.
So as events unfold and the 2013 MLB Plyoffs begin, to whom will manager Dusty Baker turn to get the first victory for the Reds?