The Cincinnati Reds don't have a date for Johnny Cueto's return from a mild oblique strain and any optimism that he could return for a start in this NLDS appears gone.
While the team originally thought that Cueto might be able to start Tuesday's Game 3 after exiting Game 1 after just eight pitches, that won't be the case. Homer Bailey will start against the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday as the Reds look to advance to the NLCS with a win at Great American Ballpark.
Reds manager Dusty Baker did not name a starter for Wednesday's Game 4 (if necessary) but Cueto is not currently in the running. Actually, with the team weighing an MRI or DL stay for its ace, it's worth wondering if Cueto will be in the running for any NLCS starts or beyond.
"They said he's getting better, but we don't know what 'better' is," Baker said in Tuesday pregame news conference. "So it's a question, I mean, that's a volatile area. You've seen the the obliques, sometimes they hang around for a while, and 0sometimes 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."
Cueto's injury questions are a huge deal for the Reds, especially considering that their entire rotation stayed healthy the entire regular season. But if there's any such things as being able to withstand the loss of a Cy Young candidate, the Reds might actually be in that position right now. Mat Latos is coming off a stellar relief effort in Game 1, Bronson Arroyo dominated in Game 2 and Homer Bailey pitched a no-hitter at the end of the season. They need one win in three home games against a weak Giants offense.
Of course, the possibility of the NLCS brings a much better offense in either the Cardinals or Nationals. So the sooner Cueto can get healthy, the better.