Johnny Cueto ruled out for Game 4, but replacement is TBA

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Yesterday when the Reds announced that Johnny Cueto has been diagnosed with a strained right oblique muscle they initially left open the possibility that he could start today’s Game 4 against the Giants.

That always seemed incredibly unlikely and sure enough just hours later manager Dusty Baker officially ruled out Cueto for the start. However, the actual Game 4 starter hasn’t been announced yet as the Reds decide between Mat Latos on short rest or Mike Leake, who could only be added to the roster if Cueto is removed (and thus made ineligible to return before the World Series).

Latos threw four innings and 57 pitches in relief of Cueto in Game 1 on Saturday, so perhaps the short rest would be canceled out by the lower than usual workload. Based on the usual recovery timetable for oblique injuries Cueto is unlikely to be ready for at least a couple weeks and if that’s the case they might as well make the move for Leake.

For now the Game 4 starter is listed as “TBA” and the first pitch is scheduled for 4:07 ET.

Will Middlebrooks carted off field with injury

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Phillies third baseman Will Middlebrooks suffered a serious injury during Saturday’s Grapefruit League contest against the Orioles. The infielder was chasing down a pop fly in the eighth inning when he ran into left fielder Andrew Pullin, who inadvertently trapped Middlebrooks’ ankle under his leg. Middlebrooks was unable to put weight on his leg following the collision and was carted off the field and taken to a local hospital for X-rays.

Per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, not much is known yet about the severity of the ankle injury or the recovery time it will require, though it appears serious enough to set Middlebrooks back considerably as he seeks a backup/bench role with the team this spring.

The 29-year-old is currently seeking another opportunity to extend his six-year major-league career in 2018. He’s coming off of two down years with the Brewers and Rangers, during which he slashed a cumulative .169/.229/.262 with four extra bases through 70 plate appearances.