Johnny Cueto will make first start since late June on Monday evening against the Astros

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The Reds have a nice cushion on the Nationals for the second NL Wild Card spot and are only 2 1/2 games back in the National League Central division.

Now comes a potential boost for the rotation.

According to C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer, right-hander Johnny Cueto will start for the first time since June 28 this Monday in the Reds’ series-opener against the Astros at Minute Maid Park. Cueto was out for about two and a half months with a strained right lat muscle and did not have the luxury of making a rehab start, so Reds manager Dusty Baker is trying to keep expectations low.

“We’ll see what we can get out of him,” Baker told the Enquirer on Sunday morning. “It’s worth a try, because he’s Johnny Cueto. The more we get out of him (Monday) and the more we get out of him the next time, maybe who knows what he’ll be ready for come playoff time.”

Cueto boasts a 2.67 ERA (151 ERA+) in 421 2/3 innings since the start of the 2011 season, but he’s made three different trips to the disabled list since switching to his Luis Tiant-style mechanics.

Cardinals acquire Marcell Ozuna from the Marlins

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The St. Louis Cardinals have acquired Marcell Ozuna from the Miami Marlins. Craig Mish of Sirius XM was the first to report that the deal was done. Ozuna still has to take a physical.

There is no report yet about what the Cards had to give up to get Ozuna, but given that the Cards and Marlins put a deal together for Giancarlo Stanton, the sides certainly have discussed various Cards prospects recently.

Ozuna fills a major need for the Cardinals, who had serious weaknesses in the middle of the order in 2017. Last year their number three hitters hit a combined .246/.338/.425 and their cleanup hitters hit 270/.350/.444. Ozuna, 27, had a fantastic offensive year in 2017, hitting .312/.376/.548 with 37 home runs and 124 RBI in 159 games.

Ozuna made $3.5 million this past season and is due for arbitration this offseason. He is under contractual control through 2019.