Commentary

Inside the matchups, Cueto versus Cubs, Liriano versus Red Sox

Updated: April 21, 2009, 4:05 PM ET
By Tom Haberstroh | Special to ESPN Insider

Don't get cute with Cueto

Reds starter Johnny Cueto faces one of the National League's best lineups in the Cubs on Wednesday night after two lukewarm performances against the league's worst lineups (Astros and Pirates). His outing against the Pirates (6 innings, 8 hits, 4 earned runs, 1 walk, 9 strikeouts) was nothing like his first start against the Astros (4 2/3 innings, 2 hits, 1 earned run, 6 walks, 2 strikeouts) so what can we expect in Chicago? The Cubs are a much more disciplined team (second-highest walk rate in the majors) than either the Astros or Pirates, so don't expect Cueto to get away with his wild stuff. Cueto leans heavily on his fastball but Aramis Ramirez (.450 batting average against) and Alfonso Soriano (.381 batting average against) have mashed the fastball this year. Facing the Cubs at Wrigley Field is not a logical situation for Cueto to put it all together.

Liriano may buckle Boston but not Bay.

Francisco Liriano and his slider visit Fenway Park on Wednesday night. Looking at the Red Sox's lineup, don't be afraid to sit David Ortiz, who has only nine hits in 84 at-bats ending in a slider since the start of the 2008 season. Delegate Mike Lowell to the bench as well as he has whiffed on 16 of the 17 sliders he's hacked at this season. Jason Bay, on the other hand, is a great bet to produce even though he's 0-3 lifetime against Liriano.

Jason Bay versus slider since 2008

Batting average, .271 (ML average, .225)
Slugging percentage, .528 (ML average, .358)
Chase percentage, 22 percent (ML average, 33 percent)

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