CIN: RHP Johnny Cueto (9-14, 4.81 ERA in 2008)
Cueto is back after his promising but inconsistent 2008 rookie season. The 23-year-old righty showed signs he will improve in 2009 by posting a 1.57 ERA in five Cactus League games, with six walks and 13 strikeouts over 23 innings. In three starts against the Pirates last season, Cueto was 2-1 with a 4.50 ERA, giving up 18 hits in 16 innings. Pitch conservation will be a big goal this season for Cueto, who was often unable to go deep in games as a rookie. PIT: LHP Paul Maholm (0-0, 1.35 ERA)
Maholm stays on regular turn through the rotation following Friday's rainout and the Pirates' decision to skip Jeff Karstens. Maholm's command wasn't pinpoint sharp as usual in his first start of the season, but he managed through it just fine. Maholm finished 6 2/3 efficient innings and allowed only one earned run, one intentional walk and seven hits. The cold weather affected Maholm's breaking ball early, and he had trouble relying on his breaking pitches until well into the outing. If the lefty can find that pitch in his next outing and continues to work the inside part of the plate, he should be back to inducing ground balls with ease. Maholm is 3-3 with a 4.08 ERA in 13 career starts against the Reds.
Rhodes and Weathers stingy:
Through three relief appearances, lefty Arthur Rhodes has thrown three perfect innings with three strikeouts. In his two outings over 1 2/3 innings, David Weathers has also been perfect. Weathers faced two batters and threw just three pitches in the eighth inning Thursday.
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WLW 700 Up next
Sunday: Reds (Aaron Harang, 0-1, 1.80 ERA) vs. Pirates (Ian Snell, 0-1, 13.50 ERA), 1:10 p.m. ET
Monday: Reds (Edinson Volquez, 0-1, 8.31 ERA) at Brewers (Yovani Gallardo, 1-0, 2.70 ERA), 8:05 p.m. ET
Tuesday: Reds (TBA) at Brewers (Manny Parra, 0-1, 10.38 ERA in 2009), 8:05 p.m. ET
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less