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.
It’s been one issue after the next for Indians reliever Andrew Miller, and on Saturday, the left-hander landed back on the 10-day disabled list with right knee inflammation. According to comments made by club manager Terry Francona, Miller’s knee has been a problem since the start of the year. The team has yet to determine a concrete timetable for his return to the bullpen.
Miller, 33, hasn’t looked like his usual sub-2.00 ERA, 2.0+ fWAR self this season, though he paired a 4.40 ERA and 6.3 BB/9 with an impressive 14.4 SO/9 across his first 14 1/3 innings. A left hamstring strain and minor back injury hampered his effectiveness on the mound, though this appears to be a more serious issue — especially given the five weeks he spent recovering from a tendon injury in his right knee last year.
In corresponding moves, the Indians designated right-hander Oliver Drake for assignment and recalled Triple-A right-handers Ben Taylor and Evan Marshall. Taylor, 25, was working on a 3.63 ERA, 1.0 BB/9 and 11.4 SO/9 through 17 1/3 innings in Triple-A Columbus, while 28-year-old Marshall turned in a terrific 0.77 ERA, 0.8 BB/9 and 6.9 SO/9 over his first 11 2/3 innings. Neither reliever has pitched more than a handful of innings at the big league level in 2018.