CINCINNATI -- The Reds and Nationals still had a game to play before Sunday's matchup of Washington ace Stephen Strasburg and his Cincinnati counterpart, Johnny Cueto. But that didn't keep folks from talking about the showdown.
Strasburg's appearance will be his first against the Reds since beating them on July 21, 2010, his last win before undergoing Tommy John surgery that cost him most of the 2011 season and led to his innings limit in 2012. Somebody mentioned to Reds manager Dusty Baker before Saturday's game that his team has been lucky to miss the right-handed phenom up to now.
"Maybe he's been one who's been lucky," Baker said with a coy smile.
Baker pointed out that his starter isn't too shabby, either. Cueto went 19-9 with a 2.78 ERA in a league-leading 33 starts last season, and allowed just three hits and one run over seven innings before leaving with a no-decision on Opening Day.
At the same time, Strasburg's talent can't be denied. The No 1 overall pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, who was shut down after going 15-6 with a 3.16 ERA in 28 starts last season, showed no signs of rust while pitching seven scoreless innings against Miami on Opening Day.
"He's a good one," Baker admitted. "There are other guys you'd pick before him to face, but you can't look too far ahead."
Mark Schmetzer is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.