Johnny Cueto was diagnosed with a mild oblique strain and could miss the remainder of the National League Divisional Series against the Giants, the Reds said on Tuesday.
Per C. Trent Rosencrans of CBSSports.com's Eye on Baseball, Dusty Baker said Cueto is "getting better" but the Reds aren't exactly sure what that means. And Cueto's availability for the remainder of the series is very much up in the air.
"They said he's getting better, but we don't know what 'better' is," Baker said Tuesday. "So it's a question. I mean, that's a volatile area. You've seen the obliques: Sometimes they hang around for a while, and sometimes they don't hang around for a while. We don't know the severity of it. He came in yesterday and got treatment all day long, so right now I would just be guessing to let you know how he is exactly right now.
"In a nutshell, we don't know."
Thanks for that Dusty. Rosencrans points out that in addition to Cueto missing the NLDS against the Giants, he could also miss the rest of the postseason.
This really gets tricky for Baker if the Giants win Game 3 on Tuesday afternoon. He would then need to decide on a starter for Game 4 in Cincinnati on Wednesday. Baker declined to announce a starter and said a lot would depend on how things shook out Tuesday.
"Right now, we don't have any decision on a Game 4 starter," Baker said. "Right now, it depends on what happens today and then we will make that decision after the game. I would like to not even have that decision to make, to tell you the truth. That would be the epitome of a good day, you know, would be for Homer to throw a good day and we can worry about somebody else starting the next series. A lot depends on [Tuesday]."
Obviously if the Reds beat the Giants on Tuesday, this is all moot. The NLDS will be over and Cincy will look forward to the next series. But if they don't, Baker will have to choose between starting Mat Latos, who pitched four innings of relief in Game 1 after Cueto went out with an injury, or rolling the dice on a starter he's not as confident in.
Baker, per Rosencrans, was "reluctant" to use Latos in that position.
The Giants are starting Barry Zito for Game 4, and perhaps Baker would be willing to gamble and hope he could eek out a win and save Latos for the next series. But if the Giants could reel off a pair of wins, suddenly the Reds would need to roll out Latos against Matt Cain.
In short, Cueto's injury is a nightmare for Cincinnati and something that might give the Giants hope if they can start to produce at the plate in the next two games.