In my blog post a couple of days ago, I mentioned that it appears that Dusty Baker has improved upon his tendency to overwork his starting pitchers. In the Reds first game since seizing first place from the Cardinals, Johnny Cueto pitched seven strong innings, allowing 7 hits including a home run and striking out 7 against one walk. Cueto was cruising through the first six innings, throwing just 92 pitches. Cueto's spot in the lineup was due up to start the seventh, and Cueto was throwing well, so it was pretty obvious to let Cueto pitch. Cueto threw 21 pitches in the seventh despite facing just four batters and getting three of them out. The strategy payed off nicely though, when pinch hitter Chris Heisey, batting for Cueto, led off the seventh with a triple igniting a 5-run rally and putting the game away.
The end result, however, was a 113 pitch outing for Cueto. In my prior post, I mentioned that each time a Reds starter had gone more than 110 pitches this season, Dusty Baker has given the pitcher an extra day of rest before the next start. My guess is that Baker will break from that strategy for Cueto's next outing, as tonight was the fourth game of a 20-day stretch with no off days. With the Reds starting rotation averaging 6.85 innings pitched per start over the last two weeks, the bullpen is well rested and could have easily been called on to get the last out of the seventh. Of course, Cueto would not have been in line to earn the win then. Cueto has been pitching well of late, but it wouldn't surprise me if he struggles a bit before the end of this brutal stretch in the schedule.
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