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.
The Cardinals have selected right-hander Miles Mikolas as their Opening Day starter, the club revealed Saturday. It’ll mark the first career Opening Day start for Mikolas, who is scheduled to go up against the Brewers when the team hits the road on March 28.
The 29-year-old righty was a strong contender for the 2018 NL Cy Young Award, earning All-Star distinctions and pitching to a career-best 18-4 record with a 2.83 ERA, 1.3 BB/9, 6.5 SO/9, and 4.3 fWAR over 200 2/3 innings. He’s positioned to lead the Cardinals rotation in 2019 as well, with former Opening Day starters Carlos Martínez and Adam Wainwright and some combination of right-handers Jack Flaherty, Michael Wacha, Alex Reyes, and John Gant behind him.
Manager Mike Shildt told reporters that Flaherty, Wacha, Wainwright, and Martínez had all been considered for the honor, but admitted that Opening Day honors were ultimately handed to Mikolas “in recognition of [his performance] last year.” The Cardinals are scheduled to play a four-game set against the Brewers to start the season and will stop over in Pittsburgh for another two games before returning to St. Louis for their opening homestand against the Padres on April 4. Additional pitching assignments have yet to be announced.