Returning from injury for the second time this season, even Johnny Cueto admits that worries of another setback could creep into his mind.
Facing the Milwaukee Brewers, whom he dominated last year, might help put him at ease.
Cueto is expected to be activated from the disabled list to take the mound Sunday as the Cincinnati Reds try to bounce back against the Milwaukee Brewers at Great American Ballpark.
Cueto (3-0, 2.17 ERA) has been on the DL since June 5 due to a strained right shoulder. It’s his second stint on the DL this year as he also missed more than a month with a strained right lat.
The injuries have limited him to six outings, during which he’s compiled a 0.88 WHIP over 37 1-3 innings.
“It feels really good right now,” Cueto, through a translator, told the team’s official website. “We’re always going to have thoughts. I pray to God everything goes well, but it’s hard to take it out of your mind like that.”
However, Cueto, who allowed only one hit over eight innings in a 6-0 win at Pittsburgh on May 31 in his last start, was stingy in four outings versus Milwaukee in 2012, going 2-1 with a 1.93 ERA. He is also 3-0 with a 1.67 ERA in his last four home starts versus the Brewers.
Aramis Ramirez is the only current Brewer hitting better than .250 in more than three at-bats against Cueto, going 13 of 39 with four homers and four doubles when facing the right-hander.
The Reds (41-28) could use a dominant start from Cueto after falling to a 6-0 defeat at the hands of the Brewers (28-39) on Saturday.
Ryan Braun missed his fifth straight game with a bruised right thumb and his first since going on the DL, but it didn’t keep Milwaukee from winning for the sixth time in eight games as the club became baseball’s last this season to record a shutout.
“6-0 - we don’t have too many of those,” manager Ron Roenicke said. “It’s nice to kind of be able to relax.”
Juan Francisco homered and had three RBIs while Logan Schafer - filling in for Braun - recorded his second consecutive three-hit game. He’s 8 for 21 over the last five games, seeing the same number of at-bats he received in the previous 10 contests.
“It’s nice to play every day and get that comfort level,” the 26-year-old Schafer said. “I felt good all day. One thing I’ve been doing a little better lately is swing at strikes and not going out of the strike zone.”
After getting six innings of three-hit ball from Yovani Gallardo Saturday, Milwaukee turns to Wily Peralta (4-7, 6.03), who’s won only once in his last seven starts. That stretch began May 12, when he yielded four runs and five hits across six innings in a 5-1 loss in Cincinnati.
The right-hander allowed three runs and five hits - all in the second inning - of a six-inning effort in Tuesday’s 5-4 loss at Miami, but didn’t get a decision.
“After the second inning, I started making pitches and was able to locate the slider, not trying to do too much or throw too hard,” Peralta said.
The Reds had won 24 of the last 31 meetings in Cincinnati prior to Saturday.