Johnny Cueto goes seven scoreless, lowers ERA to 1.94

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Johnny Cueto, who keeps straddling the innings threshold for the NL ERA lead, beat the Rockies by pitching seven scoreless innings on Thursday, lowering his ERA to 1.94.

Cueto missed the first month of the season with a strained triceps muscle, so he’s currently at 120 1/3 innings in the Reds’ 118 games.  Because he’s at one inning per game, he’s the NL ERA leader at the moment.  However, barring a stunning relief appearance, he’ll again fall below the innings threshold Sunday.

Cueto has a chance to make history.  Just one Reds pitcher during the expansion era has posted a sub-2.00 ERA.  That was Gary Nolan, who came in with a 1.99 ERA in 176 innings in 1972.  Before that, one has to go all of the way back to Dolf Luque in 1923 to find a Reds starter with a sub-2.00 ERA.

Also, no Reds pitcher has led the NL in ERA since Ed Heusser finished at 2.38 in 1944.  Cueto has a legitimate chance of ending that skid.  The NL’s next best ERA is a 2.48 mark belonging to Ryan Vogelgong.  Roy Halladay is third at 2.51.

Video: Bryce Harper crushes a home run to the Chase Field concourse

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Aaron Judge may be the talk of the town right now, but let’s not forget some of Major League Baseball’s more established sluggers. Take the Nationals’ Bryce Harper, for instance, who jumped on a full count during the first inning of Saturday’s game and postmarked the ball to the center field concourse in Chase Field.

Harper’s mammoth hit was the first career home run allowed by Diamondbacks’ rookie Anthony Banda. Banda quickly recovered with an inning-ending strikeout to Ryan Zimmerman, but was booted from his big league debut after Harper, Zimmerman and Anthony Rendon combined for a three-run spread in the sixth.

The first-inning homer also served another purpose: it extended Harper’s hitting streak to 15 games, the longest current streak in MLB this season. He’ll need four more games to tie the 19-game streak Royals’ infielder/outfielder Whit Merrifield established back in June.

The Nationals currently lead the Diamondbacks 4-2 in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Chi Chi Gonzalez to undergo Tommy John surgery

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Rangers’ right-hander Chi Chi Gonzalez is slated for Tommy John surgery, according to a report by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. Gonzalez was placed on the 60-day disabled list back in early April with a partial UCL tear and was working towards a throwing program before getting sidelined with more elbow pain. He’s expected to miss the entirety of the 2018 season while recovering from the surgery.

This is the second straight season that has been derailed for Gonzalez due to injury. The 25-year-old starter pitched just 10 1/3 innings in 2016 after recovering from a torn UCL, and was optioned to Triple-A Round Rock to finish out the year after compiling an 8.71 ERA, 7.8 BB/9 and 6.1 SO/9 in three starts with the club. He showed more promise in Triple-A with a 4.70 ERA, 2.9 BB/9 and 5.9 SO/9 through 24 starts and 138 innings.

It’s a tough blow for the Rangers, who have seen Gonzalez healthy in just one major league season to date. General manager Jon Daniels told reporters that a recent MRI showed signs of weakening in the ligament, which disrupted the team’s plans to have the right-hander stick to a six- to eight-week recovery timetable after getting a platelet-rich plasma injection (via Stefan Stevenson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram). The surgery is expected to take place next week and will put Gonzalez’s earliest return date sometime in September 2018.