Johnny Cueto's postseason might be over after eight pitches.
Cueto, the Cincinnati Reds' ace right-hander, is dealing with a mild right oblique strain, team trainer Paul Lessard said Tuesday. It's uncertain when or if Cueto will be able to pitch again in the postseason.
When Cueto left his start Saturday in the first inning of Game 1 of the National League Division Series against the San Francisco Giants, the Reds announced that he was experiencing back spasms. The diagnosis changed Tuesday.
"They said he's getting better, but we don't know what better is," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "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."
The Reds had yet to announce a starter for Wednesday's Game 4 against the Giants, which would be necessary if San Francisco wins Tuesday to avoid a three-game sweep. One option could be right-hander Mat Latos, who threw four innings of middle relief in Game 1. The Reds also could remove Cueto from the roster and activate right-hander Mike Leake for the start, but that move would rule out Cueto from the NL Championship Series if Cincinnati advances.
Cueto, 26, went 19-9 with a 2.78 ERA in 33 regular-season starts this year. He ranked third in the league in wins and ERA, and fifth in innings pitched (217).