After getting shut out by the National League’s worst pitching team, the Reds may need a big game at the plate to overcome Johnny Cueto’s(notes) struggles Saturday night as they play the Washington Nationals.
Cincinnati (50-65) entered this four-game series following two losses in three games against St. Louis, scoring a combined three runs in the defeats. A series with the Nationals, who have a 5.01 ERA, appeared to be a good opportunity for the Reds to break out of their slump.
A 7-0 victory over Washington on Thursday night was a good start for Cincinnati, but it lost the series’ second game the following evening 2-0.
“We’ve got to find a way to get some runners in scoring position,” said Reds manager Dusty Baker, whose team was shut out for the fourth time.
With Cueto (8-9, 4.23 ERA) struggling, it becomes even more imperative that Cincinnati find a way to end its woes.
The right-hander is 0-5 with a 9.49 ERA in his last seven starts, and the Reds have given him an average of 1.7 runs to work with over that span.
Cueto had his last outing cut short due to a hip injury that was determined to be a cramp. He gave up one run in two innings before leaving the game after hurting himself running out a grounder in Cincinnati’s 4-1 loss to St. Louis on Monday night.
Cueto hasn’t won since July 1 against Arizona. He’s 2-1 with a 3.15 ERA in three career starts versus the Nationals.
Cueto will not have Alex Gonzalez backing him up at shortstop, as the Reds traded the veteran to Boston on Friday for minor league infielder Kris Negron.
“I wish him a lot of success, but I’m excited to get the opportunity to play,” said Janish, who is hitting .217 in 43 games.
The Reds will next face Nationals starter J.D. Martin(notes) (1-2, 5.91), who is coming off his first career win, giving up one run in five innings as Washington beat Arizona 9-2 on Sunday. He became the fifth Nationals pitcher to record his first win as a starter this year.
The right-hander went 0-2 with a 7.16 ERA in his first four outings. This will be Martin’s first appearance against the Reds.
The third baseman is having his best season, batting .305 while matching a career high with 24 homers. Zimmerman, though, is hitting .200 in five games against the Reds this year.