You’ve probably already heard the news today, oh boy.

Johnny Cueto has been scratched from starting tonight’s game. Pedro Villarreal has been called up from AAA Louisville to take his place. No announcement from the Reds about the nature or severity of Cueto’s condition. Fingers crossed for the (unlikely) event that this is simply a way to delay his start so that he can face the Cardinals.

[Update: John Fay is now reporting that Cueto has been placed on the Disabled List with a “lat injury.” Jim Day is reporting that the Reds feel this injury isn’t as serious as the previous time Cueto was sidelined.]

Villarreal will be making his first major league start, although he did pitch a clean inning against the Phillies last September. He’s from Edinberg, Texas and was drafted by the Reds in the 7th round in 2008. He’s 25 years old, 6’1″ 230-pounds, and throws with his right hand.

How has Villarreal pitched this year? Hmm. Jeremy Warnemuende, Mark Sheldon’s assistant (Sheldon is off this series) writes:

Villarreal has had a rough go of it with Triple-A Louisville this season, going 1-3 with a 5.03 ERA in 11 starts. He’s given up 67 hits and 15 walks while striking out 42 in 59 innings.

Here’s tonight’s lineup. Note Hannahan playing second instead of Izturis, Hanigan catching.

Steve grew up in Cincinnati as a die-hard fan of Sparky’s Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. He has resumed a first-person love affair with the Cincinnati Reds and is a season ticket holder at Great American Ball Park. The only place to find Steve’s thoughts of more than 140 characters is Redleg Nation. Follow his tweets @spmancuso.

Join the conversation! 31 Comments

  1. Wait for it….. wait for it…. wait…for…it……………..

    Sorry, I had to do that… Let’s hope that Cueto’s condition isn’t bad and that he’s simply battling something. If not, the Reds are just going to have to deal with life without their ace.

  2. Oh boy is right. Mr. Vilarreal has had such a rough time time this year that I’m considering switching my mlb “Beat The Streak” picks tonight to CarGo and Tulowitski.

    Never mind. Loyalty can’t be divided.

  3. I heard lat strain

  4. Assuming it’s the same injury that’s been nagging him, it’s time to be realistic about what his contributions can/will be this season. After all, he had the entire off season to heal and still didn’t get very far into the season before it started acting up again. No reason whatsoever to think it will magically get better at this point. Hope I’m wrong, but go ahead and start stretching Chapman out just in case I’m not.

  5. So long Luis Tiant.

  6. Why did Cigrani pitch in AAA on Sunday if this was an issue, or even a potnetial issue?

    Hannahan played with the Indians a fair bit. Like him at 3B, 2B is going to be interesting. Wish Donald was hitting at AAA….

    • @GRF: That’s a great point. Cueto pitched last Friday in Pittsburgh.

      The way Izturis is hitting, Donald could not be any worse.

      • @Steve Mancuso: Cueto pitched Friday, which means he probably didn’t even get up into a bullpen until Sunday. Sounds like whatever the discomfort was, it wasn’t until after he had done two days of throwing so there wouldn’t have been any reason to sound any alarms on Sunday.

  7. Regarding tonight, with an off day tomorrow, the bullpen can be used to the fullest extent. Everyone should be available other than maybe LeCure. Remember only Chapman pitched Monday and he didn’t pitch last night. So all hands on deck.

    The Reds should work it backwards this way – Chapman in the ninth, Broxton in the eighth, Hoover in the seventh, Ondrusek in the sixth, Simon for one or two.

    So Villarreal is needed only for four or five innings. If he makes it that far, the Reds should start up the bullpen. Remember, off day tomorrow.

  8. I really hope this makes us get serious about extending Latos and Bailey. Best case scenario, Cueto returns to his pre-twist form and is a very good front line starter but hardly an ace. Worst case scenario, he’s become injury-prone and we can’t rely on him to be our stopper for a whole season and into the playoffs. Either way, Latos and Bailey are younger with ceiling left. Either one could easily end up being better than Cueto.

    I really like Cueto, I just never envisioned him as being a perennial CY candidate and the more this stuff keeps happening the less likely i see that being. Hope he gets well soon, though, because right now we’re not set up to win long-term without him.

    PS The Pirates got shut out AGAIN plus Wandy Rodriguez was injured. I just don’t see them hanging around much longer.

    • @eric nyc: You realize he doesn’t do the full twist when there are men on base, right? And if I’m not mistaken he’s actually more effective that way, and has an extremely high strand %. So I wouldn’t rush to write off his ace-ness just yet, even if he changes his windup.

      • @Eric the Red: I do realize that, but I also realize that he pitches a very high percentage of pitches with no one on base and that by all accounts, including his own, that move is what pushed him into the upper echelons of NL pitchers. Again, I think even without it he’d be very very good, just not a top ace that an elite team needs at the front of their rotation.

  9. You know, if Cueto would get a haircut, he would be a little more aero-dynamical. With all that hair sticking out, it is putting some drag on his side and back muscles with that extra motion he has in his delivery. Repeat that 100’s of times, and it begins to add up. Just ask a NASCAR fan about drag and resistance.
    Of course, I’m jesting. Hoping this is just a one game situation.

  10. News blows, but kudos for the Beatles reference.

  11. Ruh-roh Shaggy.
    I don’t like that update.

  12. 15-day DL retroactive to Saturday, which means if my math is correct that it’s possible he only misses this and one other start and could be eligible for his scheduled start on the 16th.

  13. Little bit of good news: Both Baker and BP say that Phillips will be in the lineup Friday against the Cardinals.

    • @Steve Mancuso:

      They were pushing on the telecast last night on a few occasions the fact that there remained alot of good tickets left for all 3 games vs. Cards. That can’t be right can it?
      It’d be nice to have a full house for all 3 games.

      • @WVRedlegs: I have the FlexPlan and had a tough time getting seats on my vouchers last week for Saturday’s game. I am actually in the handicap row for my usual section. It’s all they had with 2 together in the sections I can use my vouchers for.

  14. Well, this news is rather sad.

    But I just have to laugh.

  15. I have to wonder if this is another example of the crack medical/training staff of the Reds in action again…nagging injury, etc. I’m not saying it is or isn’t, but it’s an on-going medical problem.

    • @Bill Lack:

      Or it could just be the player is not properly taking care of themself. If you ask a player “Does this hurt?” and he lies and says “No”, there’s not much else a medical team can do in that situation.

      Again, we don’t know, but the Reds staff aren’t the only ones that miss injuries or fail to prevent them.

  16. I hate to over-react, but

  17. Crappy news. The main thing is a long term concern about Cueto’s health. He said he was going to look into altering his delivery if he continued to have health problems.
    Hard to say what that might mean.

    In the short run, I hope the Reds pull off a win tonite, because last nite’s loss will bother me even more if it turns out to mean losing the series.

  18. I expected Hannahan to start tonite. He’s been taking ground balls at second.

  19. I hope Villareal and Cingrani do a flip flop for SP at the big leagues.

  20. I have a question. On the Reds website, they say Cueto is on the DL for a strained right shoulder, not the lat. They aren’t the same thing are they? In fact, rereading they say, “Cueto is 3-0 with a 2.17 ERA in six starts this year, but went on the disabled list with a strained right shoulder. He previously missed time on the disabled list with a strained right lat”. Now I’m a little more concerned.

    • @HOF-13: Cueto talked about it today in an interview and said it wasn’t as serious as his last one. Sounds mostly like a precaution because it’s early in the season and they want him strong for the post-season.

      The one thing that did surprise me was that he said he did it in the last inning of his last start, so you’d have thought that they would have prepped Cingrani.

  21. What happened to the days of teams having a spot starter on the team? Every team used to be able to cover a missed start here and there with guys on the big league roster, and that was when team’s mostly had 6-man bullpens. Now we have 7 guys, but none of them can start a game?

    I would much rather see what Simon can do as a starter and have a reliver come up for the pen than bring up a guy who’s getting beat around in AAA to start.

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About Steve Mancuso

Steve grew up in Cincinnati as a die-hard fan of Sparky's Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. He has resumed a first-person love affair with the Cincinnati Reds and is a season ticket holder at Great American Ball Park. The only place to find Steve's thoughts of more than 140 characters is Redleg Nation. Follow his tweets @spmancuso.


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