Although the Cincinnati Reds have effectively been without ace pitcher Johnny Cueto for the entire season, it hasn’t hurt them too much considering they’re currently tied with the Pittsburgh Pirates atop the National League Wild Card standings.
Both Pittsburgh and Cincinnati hold a relatively commanding lead, so barring a complete collapse, both should find themselves in the postseason – it’s just a matter of seeding.
The Reds are hopeful Johnny Cueto can help them improve that.
Dealing with a nagging last strain, Cueto has been out since June (and he missed time before that) but yesterday he threw his first session of live batting practice and appears to be nearing a return, per Reds.com:
“He looked very good,” manager Dusty Baker said. “He was sharp for the amount of time he’s been out. He had good command, good velocity and his pitches were pretty sharp. His mechanics are so sound that he’s not going to be too far off.”
On the disabled list for the third time this season with a right lat strain, Cueto was expected to throw a bullpen session on Saturday. Instead, his work was pushed back a day so he could pitch to batters on Sunday, including Xavier Paul, who mentioned that one of Cueto’s cutters nearly broke his bat.
Along with Baker, head trainer Paul Lessard, pitching coach Bryan Price and Reds general manager Walt Jocketty were on hand to watch Cueto, who threw strictly out of the stretch. The next likely step, according to Baker, is for Cueto to throw another simulated game. When that occurs depends on how the Cincinnati ace comes out of Sunday’s session.
“I was just happy he’s throwing,” Baker said.
There’s no word on what the Reds plan to do with Cueto when he does come back, either regain his starting slot or be moved to the bullpen, but either way a healthy Cueto is good news for the Reds.