Johnny Cueto was scratched from tonight’s scheduled start against the Rockies and placed on the disabled list with a lat injury, leaving the Reds scrambling to find a fill-in starter. Tony Cingrani no doubt would have been the choice after pitching so well subbing for Cueto earlier this season, but he started yesterday at Triple-A.
Pedro Villarreal will make the spot start in Cueto’s place. Villarreal made his big-league debut with the Reds in September, throwing one scoreless inning in his lone appearance. This season the 25-year-old right-hander had a 5.03 ERA in 11 starts at Triple-A, serving up 13 homers in 59 innings.
As for Cueto … he has a history of lat/oblique problems, including spending a month on the DL earlier this season, and has even talked about potentially needing to adjust his mechanics to avoid further injuries. He’s been fantastic in between DL stints, going 3-0 with a 2.17 ERA in six starts, but if the past is any indication Cueto may not pitch again until after the All-Star break.
Free agent outfielder A.J. Pollock has landed on the Dodgers’ radar, and The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal says the two appear to be in discussions regarding a deal for 2019. Terms of any prospective deal have not been released, but interest is presumed to be fairly high as he checks two boxes on their wish list: that of a right-handed hitter and an experienced centerfielder.
Pollock, 31, rounded out a seven-year career with the Diamondbacks in 2018. While he was sidelined for nearly seven weeks after fracturing his left thumb on a dive gone wrong, he finished the season batting a hearty .257/.316/.484 with a career-best 21 home runs, 13 steals (in 15 chances), and 2.5 fWAR across 460 plate appearances. He received a $17.9 million qualifying offer from the club at the end of the year and elected to enter free agency in hopes of a better deal, which some have estimated at five years and $80 million.
So far, it’s not clear whether teams are willing to meet those terms. Pollock profiles as both a solid hitter and defender, but he hasn’t played a season in full health since 2015, which may be a deal-breaker for those in search of long-term talent. Even with that caveat, however, the Dodgers are far from the only club willing to enter negotiations with the outfielder this winter. The Braves have been linked to Pollock since December, and the Mets and Reds have expressed varying levels of interest as well.