Originally written on StraitPinkie.com  |  Last updated 4/15/13
The Reds started the same 5 starting pitchers for basically the entire season last year.  After Johnny Cueto’s injury, the Reds stand no chance of repeating that again this year.  Cueto strained a muscle in his back during his start in Pittsburgh on Saturday night. If you remember correctly, Cueto suffered a pulled oblique muscle in the first inning of a playoff game against San Francisco last year.  That injury left the Red’s pitching staff in a state of chaos for the rest of the series and the Reds ended up losing in 5 games. Many people picked the Reds to win the National League this year if they stayed healthy.  Well, throughout the first couple weeks of the season the Reds have seen 3 significant injuries including Ryan Ludwick having to be placed on the 60-day DL due to a dislocated shoulder on opening day.  The strong suit of the Cincinnati club over the last couple seasons has been their outstanding pitching and defense.  With Ludwick, Cueto and Sean Marshall out for an extended period of time those aspects of the game are in jeopardy of turning into a weakness. The Reds called up reliever Justin Freeman from Triple-A Louisville to give them much needed bullpen help.  It is the general consensus though that by the time Cueto’s start rolls around, the Reds will call up rising prospect Tony Cingrani to fill in during his absence. There is no doubt that the Reds will miss their opening day starter in the coming weeks but it is no time to panic if you are a Reds fan.  It is much better that Cueto gets this dealt with now, rather than having to worry about it when the Reds could potentially be in a pennant race later in the season.  There are arguments that Cueto should have won the Cy Young award for the best pitcher in the National League last year so they definitely want to take care of him. A combination of shaky bullpen work and untimely hitting has got the Reds in a funk.  They are currently on a 5 game losing streak after being swept by the Pittsburgh Pirates over the weekend.  They are hoping to break out of it during their upcoming 10 game home-stand where they host the Phillies, Marlins and Cubs. Quotes from Dusty Baker:  On how long Cueto will be out for – “Hopefully only three, maybe four starts.  Once he does come back, he has to get his endurance up, so we’re really not putting a timetable on it.  We’re going to miss him, but we’ve got to carry on.” On the injuries plaguing the roster - ”This is our ace, we already lost a couple of key guys in Marshall and Ludwick, so I hope we don’t lose any more.”  
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