Sean Marshall and Johnny Cueto on Different Paths to Return


Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

Might get one back. Might not the other.

If you read John Fay’s post about the status of Reds reliever Sean Marshall and starter Johnny Cueto, you know that Marshall’s chances of returning are much more likely than Cueto’s. While the results of both strength tests were positive, there was still a bit of a downer.

An occupant of the disabled list for the third time this season, Cueto’s lat isn’t fully healed, as reported by Fay. Trainer Paul Lassard stated the lat was about 75% healed. More strengthening for another week and they’ll look at it again, hoping the other 25% will properly heal.

It now begs to question: is it time to shut down Cueto for the remainder of the season? Not a question many like to consider. Actually, might be one no Reds fans want to consider. Not been a lot of chatter about Cueto until lately though.

We saw the importance of Cueto to this team during last year’s NLDS. An early Cueto departure led to Sam LeCure and Mat Latos filling in during Game 1 of the NLDS, Mike Leake gaining a start in Game 4, and the chances of the Reds advancing in last year’s postseason were. well, shattered. We don’t like to relive such things, but, as we hear, it is what it is, or was in this case.

The other day, Tyler examined the options in regards to a postseason starting rotation. He doesn’t like the chances if there is no Cueto.

And consider what Fay says…

"Because he is a starter, he (Cueto) would need to build his pitch count. Since there are only two weeks left in the minor league season, there won’t be anywhere to go on rehab assignment."

And there’s the rub, and it’s a big one. With no place to face live, game situation hitting, the options are limited.

Sure, you have simulated games, a route that will become a necessity in two weeks. You have bullpen sessions. Facing live hitting under actual game conditions is what is needed. That’s not going to be a luxury the Reds have with Cueto.

In addition, this rotation as it is currently constructed hasn’t struggled in Cueto’s absence.

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But is there light at then end of the tunnel here? Possibly, but it doesn’t involve the starting rotation.

Marshall will begin a throwing program tomorrow. He shouldn’t necessitate as long a rehab assignment as Cueto would, so we may see him later in the season and have a roster spot in the postseason. Having that second lefty option out of the bullpen could make match-ups easier for Dusty. It’s not like Manny Parra has sucked in his current role. To many, Parra’s been a huge surprise this season, especially after his rocky start and his own DL stint.

I don’t think I’m out a limb here in saying the preference of some Reds fans lean toward a Cueto return.