Cincinnati Reds: What Does Johnny Cueto’s Return Mean?

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Updated: September 16, 2013

Johnny Cueto will return to the mound tonight for the Cincinnati Reds to face the Houston Astros. The return of Cueto has been kept a bit under wraps as the Reds tried to figure what was best for Cueto and what was best for the Reds going forward in their push for the postseason.

Cueto hasn’t pitched since June 28th, and with all the Minor League action being over for some time now, Cueto will have to jump right back into the fire tonight. He has thrown a few simulated games and some bullpen sessions without any setbacks thus far. There will be a pitch count on Cueto going into the game, but the amount of pitches has not been announced yet. Coming back against the Astros could be very much like a one game minor league rehab assignment given their record on the season.

Could the return of Cueto now impact the rotation of the Reds in the postseason? It is safe to assume that it will not since Cueto hasn’t pitched in a game for over two months now. If the regular season ended today, the Reds would have to play the one game Wild Card playoff to advance further into October. In Cueto’s absence, Mat Latos has been stellar. Since the All-Star break, Latos has pitched in 11 games with a record of 6-3 and an ERA of 2.55. Latos has proven to this organization and fanbase that he is the clear cut ace of the staff now. Homer Bailey has also performed quite well since the All-Star break, as he has a 2.74 ERA and has a 6-2 record in 11 games.

How could Cueto make an impact for the Reds in the postseason? Look at the team that knocked the Reds out of the postseason last year. The 2012 San Francisco Giants had Tim Lincecum come out of their bullpen and throw some very good innings for them after struggling as a starter in the regular season. Lincecum had a 2.55 ERA in 17.2 innings while striking out 20 batters in the 2012 postseason. Cueto could very easily post similar numbers and fill a very similar role. The Reds already have a very good bullpen and it will become even better if they are able to stick Cueto down there and use him in the necessary spots during the 2013 postseason.

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