As first reported by beat writer John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer, the Reds have activated right-hander Johnny Cueto from the 15-day disabled list. Pedro Villarreal was sent to Triple-A Louisville in a corresponding move to clear a 25-man roster spot.
Cueto will return to the Cincy starting rotation on Sunday afternoon for the Reds’ series finale with the Brewers. He wound up missing exactly 15 days (the minimum) because of a strained right lat muscle.
Tony Cingrani is going to stick around for Sunday’s game to back up Cueto, who did not make a rehab start and will probably be on some kind of pitch count in his return to action.
Cingrani will likely be shipped back to the Triple-A level early next week.
Cueto, 27, has an excellent 2.17 ERA, 0.88 WHIP and 34/13 K/BB ratio in 37 1/3 innings this season. Cincinnati is currently 3 1/2 games back of the Cardinals in the National League Central standings.
I hope you don’t have any plans tonight at around 10PM Eastern time, because that’s when we get a pitching matchup for the ages as Max Scherzer will take on Clayton Kershaw at Dodger Stadium. When they meet tonight it will be the first time two pitchers with three or more Cy Young Awards have matched up since 2006. That year, and in 2005 and 2000, Roger Clemens faced Greg Maddux. In 2001 Clemens faced Pedro Martinez.
Kershaw won his hardware in 2011, 2013 and 2014, with an MVP award in 2014 to boot. Scherzer collected trophies in 2013, 2016 and 2017. Each has started the 2018 season in Cy Young form. Kershaw is 1-2, but that record is due to poor run support. He has a 1.73 ERA and has struck out 31 batters and has walked only three in 26 innings. Scherzer is 3-1 with a 1.33 ERA and a whopping 38 strikeouts to only 4 walks in 27 innings.
This will be the third time that Kershaw and Scherzer faced each other if you include the playoffs. The first meeting was a decade ago when both were rookies. They most recently faced off in Game 1 of the 2016 NLDS, way back when Scherzer only had one Cy Young Award to his credit. Kershaw beat Scherzer in that playoff game and the Dodgers beat Scherzer’s teams in the two regular season matchups, with neither guy setting the world on fire. As so often happens in baseball, the hype hasn’t been matched by reality.
Still, there’s always a chance it will. And even if, in the end, this turns into a slugfest, the first couple of innings should at least give us some hope of something good. I’ll be watching.