Johnny Cueto is trying to block out the trade talk that’s seemingly growing louder and louder each day. That chatter might cease not long after his start in Colorado.
Cueto could pitch in his final game for the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday night against the Rockies.
With their lackluster record, the Reds (42-52) are set to deal away some players and Cueto (6-6, 2.79 ERA) is high on that list because his expected price tag in free agency this offseason will likely prove too extravagant. The right-hander’s four-year, $27 million contract signed in 2011 included a club option for this season worth $10 million.
Cueto is scheduled to start Thursday in Cincinnati, but the trade deadline is Friday, making it unlikely he’ll pitch against Pittsburgh.
"I can’t think about it when I’m pitching. I have to keep my mind in the game," he said through an interpreter after his latest start Sunday against Cleveland.
Cueto walked six batters – three more than in any of his other 17 games this season – in a 5-3 loss in 11 innings to the Indians. He lasted just four innings while throwing 94 pitches, ending a 53-start streak of five or more innings.
The eight-year veteran insisted his impending departure from the Reds wasn’t a factor.
"These are things that are happening. I don’t decide things that are happening, I don’t put things in my mind that aren’t in my control, so I don’t really care," he told MLB’s official website.
Cueto had a good handle on the Rockies (41-53) in two matchups last season, allowing two runs in eight innings in each.
He’ll try to lead the Reds to just their fourth win in 11 games. Cincinnati blew a one-run lead in the eighth inning in Friday’s series opener and lost 6-5 after Joey Votto’s tying homer in the ninth.
Carlos Gonzalez hit two home runs, giving him six in his last 12 games, and Charlie Blackmon scored on Ryan Mattheus’ wild pitch to finish off the Rockies’ sixth win in eight home games.
"I feel like I’m giving this team a chance to win ball games and to help put runs on the board," said Gonzalez, batting .396 since July 4. "Hopefully, it stays that way. We still have a lot of games in front of us and I believe in this team and in every single player in this clubhouse."
Chris Rusin (3-3, 3.88) had a strong performance at Cincinnati in his Rockies debut May 26, yielding one run in seven innings of a 2-1 walkoff loss, but he’s since gone 0-3 with a 6.65 ERA in four road starts.
He enters on a four-start winless streak overall despite a 2.59 ERA in that span. Rusin gave up five runs in six innings against Texas on Monday but just two were earned in an 8-7 home victory.
Votto is hitless in his last six at-bats against Rusin but is batting .593 in his last seven games after going 3 for 5 on Friday. Jay Bruce is 1 for 8 lifetime versus the left-hander and Todd Frazier is 1 for 5 with four strikeouts while Marlon Byrd is 4 for 8.
D.J. LeMahieu, batting .411 in a career high-tying 14-game hit streak, is 5 for 11 against Cueto.