When Johnny Cueto was on the disabled list there was some talk of the Reds possibly bringing him back as a reliever, but he returned as a starter and now he might be end up being their No. 1 starter in the playoffs.
John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer asked manager Dusty Baker about that possibility and got only a “we’ll see” response. Cueto has started twice since taking nearly three months off, tossing five shutout innings followed by seven innings of two-run ball. And for the season he has a 2.82 ERA and 51/18 K/BB ratio in 61 innings overall.
If the Reds have to play the one-game Wild Card playoff, will they put their season in the hands of Cueto or go with Mat Latos? Actually, all six pitchers who’ve started more than 10 games for the Reds this season have an ERA under 3.60, so there aren’t really any terrible options.
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.